IBEW again protests outside Glendale City Hall

About 85 electrical workers marched outside Glendale City Hall Tuesday afternoon shouting “All we want is a contract” and declaring that it's taken the city too long to make a deal with its newest union.

“These guys are a little upset,” said Martin Marrufo, spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18. “These guys are at their wit's end.”

The union, which has been a thorn in the city's side since even before it officially became recognized in 2011, has protested outside City Hall and packed City Council chambers several times in the past year during protracted negotiations on a contract.

The union rejected a offer in April and two months ago offered a new proposal. The city has yet to respond to that proposal, sparking the protest on Tuesday, Marrufo said.

But the union hasn't been the only side tapping its foot. The city has had to wait nearly four months on a union response in the past, said City Manager Scott Ochoa.

“We have made an honest, good-faith effort,” Ochoa said, adding that since June 2011, the city and union have met to discuss contract issues 21 times.

Human Resources Director Matt Doyle said a city union hasn't been this combative since the firefighters in the 1970s.

City officials would like to get the electrical worker's contract in line with other Glendale unions, which have taken pay cuts and rolled back, or postponed, benefits in recent years as the city struggles financially, Doyle said.

“We certainly hope to come to an agreement soon,” he said.

The delayed response to the union's proposal has been partially caused by a massive reorganization at City Hall, with 122 employees retiring early and five others being laid off to save millions of dollars as part of an effort to close a $15.4-million budget gap.

In June, electrical workers packed council chambers to lobby for access to an early retirement option extended to others at City Hall. Both sides blamed the other for cutting IBEW members out of the option.

Next week, the council is set to review opening up the retirement incentive to electrical workers, Ochoa said, adding that city officials had been waiting on the union to approve the retirement option.

-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News

Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ or Twitter: @brittanylevine



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