Traverse City Mayor Estes may seek changes

TRAVERSE CITY — Mayor Michael Estes wants to explore wringing more concessions out of city workers through Michigan’s new right-to-work law.

A law the Republican-controlled Legislature passed and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed in December bars mandatory union fees under new labor agreements. It applies to contracts reached after March 27, which appears to exempt Traverse City’s pending four-year agreement with about 15 clerical and technical employees represented by Teamsters Local 214. The union’s contract expired June 20, 2012.

The requirement for all employees to pay fees for union representation is a standard clause in most collective bargaining agreements and is included in the one before they city commission, said City Manager Ben Bifoss. The commission will consider the contract when it meets today at 7 p.m.

“This is a new piece of information and what are the ramifications,” Estes said. “There may be none, but what if I can get additional benefits for the city?”

The city commission stays out of face-to-face bargaining, Estes said. Commissioners meet with Bifoss in closed session to set parameters of what they want to see in new contracts in terms of pay, pensions, benefits, and similar issues. But that meeting took place well before the Legislature decided to push through the controversial law in its lame duck session, so the topic was not covered.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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