Council to talk more about contracts for UAW workers Tuesday

Published 4:50 pm Saturday, January 19, 2013

Coffee talks could be brewing back up soon

The Austin City Council will learn more about contract negotiations with the local United Auto Workers union Tuesday after its public meetings.

The council will meet starting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday inside city council chambers, but won’t enter into a closed session to discuss the UAW contract situation until after its public meeting and work session, according to City Administrator Jim Hurm. City offices are closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

More than 25 UAW workers attended the last city council meeting to criticize the city’s staunch refusal of any UAW requests in the latest contract negotiations, which have taken place since November 2010. UAW workers, which make up about 42 employees in the city’s Park and Recreation, Street, Sewer and Wastewater Treatment Plant departments, have worked without an official contract for more than two years, as the last UAW contract expired at the end of 2010.

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Council members will hear from city officials and discuss whether what measures the council can or should take to bring the contract bargaining to a close.

The council is also expected to approve a 4.4 percent total increase in assessment rates for 2013 during its public meeting. City officials came to the council during its last work session asking for the rates to increase, as the city would like residents to pay for 50 percent of any work assessed. In 2012, according to Assistant City Engineer Steven Lang, residents paid about 34 percent in assessments for improvement projects done. The city has slightly raised assessment rates over the past few years.

Coffee with the Council could be back on the docket soon, as the council is expected to discuss whether to restart the public outreach initiative during its work session. Council members tabled Coffee with the Council meetings in July 2012, four months after starting them, as the meetings tended to be dominated by a few residents and a local political candidate used one of the meetings to stump for elected office.

Council members are expected to allow the Planning and Zoning Department to remove refuse and junk at 1300 First Place SE as well.