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City, workers at an impasse

By Staff | Apr 26, 2019

Contract negotiations between the city of Cape Coral and its unions have broken down and were declared to be at an impasse early Thursday afternoon, meaning that both sides will likely have things settled by a third party.

The one major sticking point with the union is reportedly about wages. Richard Jones, local union rep, said the city made an offer of 3 percent per year for three years life of the contract, while the union has offered a variation of that.

“The city wants to continue looking at year four and the union is in disagreement. We believe under Florida state statutes, it says you can only negotiate for three years,” Jones said.

Jones said the union is going to contact the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission, which is appointed by the governor to step in. They will bring in a mediator to get both parties to make an agreement.

If that fails, the case will go to a special magistrate, who will make a recommendation to the City Council, which will then make the final decision.

The time table depends on when the parties can get together, and with a third party, the process can take three to six months, Jones said.

The contract between the city and unions for city workers expired at the end of September. By state law, public employees cannot strike.

Jones did say workers will make themselves known at City Council meetings.

“Maybe we can start attending those meetings to voice our opinions on getting a fair deal. We’ve been in negotiations for about a year,” Jones said, adding that the city hasn’t made any wage proposals since City Council held a shade meeting last month and said there will be another one for further direction.

Walter Ilczyszyn, business manager for IUPAT District Council 78, said the change on wages came in the 11th hour.

“We were pretty dissatisfied and upset that it was like a bait and switch. We’ll take this to the proper channels and it’s the governing body’s decision now if they want to make us whole,” Ilczyszyn said.