Sheldon Council - Union Talk

AFSCME union representative Preston DeBoer asks the Sheldon City Council to support a merger between two city union at the Wednesday, July 17, meeting.

He will be at the Dec. 4 council meeting to continue the discussion.

SHELDON—The city of Sheldon’s two unions groups have not given up on their question to become one.

When the Sheldon City Council meets at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, it will hear from Preston DeBoer, an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees representative.

DeBoer spoke on behalf of Sheldon’s Public Works Collective Bargaining Unit and Police Collective Bargaining Unit, members of AFSCME Local Union 1741, at the July 17, Aug. 7 and Sept. 18 council meetings.

The union groups want to merge to get better bargaining rights. A 2017 change in state law limited the bargaining ability of most unions, including public works.

Police unions were mostly unaffected by the change and the combined Sheldon union would fall under public safety umbrella, therefore, allowing all members of that group the same bargaining rights as stand-alone police unions.

All of Sheldon’s union employees signed a letter DeBoer read to the council on Sept. 18 supporting the merger. The employees later agreed to recertify their respective unions.

At that Sept. 18 meeting, the council accepted the letter but took no other action related to the unions.

In the packet for Wednesday’s meeting, DeBoer penned an apology to the council for focusing on the negatives of the unions’ relationship with the council and not the positives. He cites the change in state law as one source of his frustration during that discussion.

Some of the positives DeBoer said he failed to highlight was the city offering union employees an alternative health savings account insurance plan, freezing union employees health insurance contributions on July 1 and increasing life benefits for those employees.

“That was very wrong and I apologize for my oversight,” DeBoer wrote. “I am human and failed to control my emotion in the moment. The employees appreciated all of the changes approved by the council and expressed their appreciation to me.

“I failed to relay their appreciation in my presentation and failed to present the big picture message I intended. I am sincerely sorry for not following through on their behalf in expressing their/my appreciation.”

DeBoer wrote he wants to the relationship between the city and union to win-win and hopes to remedy that with his latest contract proposal.

According to city manager Sam Kooiker’s meeting report, the council has three options Wednesday:

  1. Support a stipulation and agreement merger for the unions.
  2. Decline action/oppose the merger, which would trigger a Public Employment Relations Board meeting in Des Moines. That hearing could take up to a year to resolve.
  3. Oppose the merger in preparation for the PERB hearing and update the city’s 13-year-old personnel manual to address issues limited by the new law.