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Bill would keep council in loop on union deals

It's been the recurring controversial topic for much of the spring and summer.

And tonight at the City Council meeting, it's likely to be brought up again: collective bargaining.

Councilman Mitch Harper, R-4th, plans to introduce an ordinance amending city code that would require a collective bargaining agreement that has been negotiated and ratified be presented to the council in a “timely manner following ratification.”

City officials said in a response they already do so.

The introduction of Harper's ordinance comes on the heels of discussions between the council and members of the city's two public safety unions regarding collective bargaining last month.

During at least two council meetings, Harper claimed Mayor Tom Henry's administration failed to keep the council in the loop once a collective bargaining contract had been ratified.

The administration also would sometimes ratify a contract and not present to the council for approval for months at a time, Harper said.

“There's no reason on earth those shouldn't be presented to council in a timely manner,” Harper said.

Harper said he has heard of ratified contracts sitting for months before being filed with the clerk's office and presented to City Council.

Part of his ordinance reads: “there has existed instances where certain agreements have not been filed by the Administration in a reasonably timely manner following ratification.”

When reached for comment, city officials released a statement that read, in part:

“We disagree with that statement. The City engages in good faith negotiations with labor unions and presents agreements to City Council in a timely manner when they are complete and ready to be voted on by City Council.”

Harper's ordinance calls for a collective bargaining agreement between the city and a union to be presented no later than the first regular or special meeting of the council after its ratification.

In May, the council voted to end collective bargaining for all city employees who are not police officers or firefighters.

A contract for firefighters has been passed, but police union officials and the city are still negotiating.