Local News

Union declares impasse with Avon Park

AVON PARK - A union representing six city employees has declared an impasse in salary negotiations with the City of Avon Park. AFSCME Union President Tammy Macklin confirmed on Thursday that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union has declared an impasse with the city. "We currently have six left," Macklin said of the number of employees the union represents who work for the city. Avon Park City Manager Julian Deleon said he had met twice with Macklin and Hector Ramos, AFSCME regional director.
During the first meeting the union requested a 5 percent across-the-board increase for all collective bargaining unit employees, he said. "After performing a preliminary comparative analysis of wages paid by Avon Park relative to other local municipal units, I took the position that no wage increases would be appropriate for the budget year of 2013/2014," Deleon said. "Our wages are significantly higher when compared to the City of Sebring." Ramos said the city is "undermanned" due to layoffs so a smaller group of employees are doing the work and still meeting the needs of the city. "It's a shame that somehow or other that the administration doesn't recognize the hard work the employees are doing and the financial constraints the employees have after not receiving increases for the last several years," he said. Deleon said he informed the union that the city will likely offer another sick leave and vacation leave accrued hours buy-back program. "This is the same program which we successfully implemented this current fiscal year and greatly reduced our uncompensated absence liability, while allowing our employees to get some up-front cash," he said. Deleon explained that the city's union employees already receive automatic step pay increases on a yearly basis, which will be honored and have been budgeted for 2013-14. In addition to these automatic pay increases, the union wanted more pay increases all the way across the board, he said. "Given the current economic climate and the council's direction to provide tax relief to Avon Park residents and businesses, I took the position of denying their request," Deleon said. The union opted to declare impasse, which requires a magistrate to make a recommendation, he said. The issue will ultimately end up back with the city council for final determination. "I will retain attorney Brian Koji to represent us on these matters," Deleon said. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826