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Brainerd: City settles after union files grievances

The city of Brainerd offered a settlement agreement to streets department employee Marvin Bush after two grievances were filed on Bush's behalf by the Union of Operating Engineers, Local No. 49.

Brainerd City Council President Gabe Johnson calls for a vote during the council's meeting Monday, June 17. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch
Brainerd City Council President Gabe Johnson calls for a vote during the council's meeting Monday, June 17. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

The city of Brainerd offered a settlement agreement to streets department employee Marvin Bush after two grievances were filed on Bush's behalf by the Union of Operating Engineers, Local No. 49.

The city and the union are parties to a collective bargaining agreement governing the terms and conditions of employment for the city's street department bargaining unit.

According to a settlement agreement approved by the Brainerd City Council Monday, June 17, the union filed a grievance on Nov. 20, 2018 alleging the city improperly required Bush to use sick leave. Then on Jan. 15, 2019, the union filed another grievance alleging Bush lost vacation leave when he was asked to work on days he had scheduled as vacation days in December 2018.

After discussing the matter in closed session Monday, pursuant to Minnesota Statute 13D.05, subdivision 3(b) for attorney-client privilege, the council approved a settlement agreement including the following elements:

• The union withdrew both grievances filed on behalf of Bush, deeming them settled and resolved.

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• The city will credit Bush's sick leave balance with 32 hours of sick leave and debit 32 hours from his vacation leave balance. This change reflects allowing Bush to use vacation leave for four days he took off of work Nov. 27-30, 2018.

• The city will credit Bush's vacation leave balance with seven hours to reflect the hours of vacation time he lost when he voluntarily came to work on days he scheduled as vacation days in December 2018.

• The city agreed to amend its employee policy manual to clarify all employees must use sick leave and accrued compensatory time before taking vacation leave concurrent with unpaid family and medical leave. Compensatory time is paid time off given to a non-exempt employee instead of overtime pay. Rather than paying employees time and a half in overtime pay, the city gives paid time off from work equivalent to one and a half hours for each extra hour worked, a policy allowed under the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act.

• Bush agreed to give up any and all claims arising out the union's grievances, up to the effective date of the agreement (June 17), against the city; all current and former city council members; and all current and former city officers, agents and employees.

• By signing the agreement, Bush did not release or waive the following: Rights or claims based on events that occur after he signs the agreement; any right to institute legal action to enforce this agreement; any right to apply for unemployment compensation benefits; any claims arising under the Workers' Compensation Act; any right to file a charge with a governmental agency.

• Bush agreed neither the city nor any of its agents, employees or representatives have made any promises or representations regarding the taxable nature or consequences of payment made pursuant to the agreement.

• Except for the employee policy manual amendment, nothing in the agreement should constitute a precedent applicable to any other member of the bargaining unit.

To be effective, any cancellation of the agreement by Bush must be in writing and delivered to the city administrator either by hand or mail within the recission period.

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Both parties agreed the settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing on the part of Bush or the city.

Both Bush and union business representative Todd Djonne signed the agreement Monday, while City Administrator Cassandra Torstenson signed the agreement Tuesday.

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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