Utility Department employees bonus, insurance approved

2013-12-18T19:30:00Z 2013-12-18T23:14:17Z Utility Department employees bonus, insurance approvedJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | While the contract between Utility Service Department employees and the city wasn't ready for a vote Wednesday, Utility Services Board members did make some moves toward the new labor agreement.

The board approved moving all union and nonunion employees from their present insurance plan to one operated by the International Operating Engineers.

IOE Local 150 represent field and plant employees. City Attorney Gregg Sobkowski said the first contract for the employee group is near completion, but still under review by union officials.

As part of that contract, the department employees will move from the present insurance plan to one operated by the Operating Engineers, which already provides health insurance for streets and sanitation workers.

The board also approved hiring independent insurance contractor Mark Miller to work with retired department employees in providing health insurance.

The board also rescinded an action taken last month giving all Utility Department employees a $750 bonus.

After rescinding that bonus, the board approved to give $1,000 bonuses to full-time and $500 bonuses to part-time, nonunion employees and to give bargaining unit employees $750 bonuses.

Mayor James Snyder, who chairs the board, said after last month's meeting, it was decided nonunion employees should receive slightly larger bonuses since they don't participate in the benefits of the union contract.

In addition to giving employees a bonus, the board also approved giving Snyder a $1,000 bonus, pending its legality.

Member Andre Joseph cited efforts by Snyder in several areas and said he deserved the additional funds.

Sobkowski said he would have to conduct research to determine if it is legal for the board to give its chairman such a bonus under state law.

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