Lewis County 911 Communications

A Lewis County 911 dispatch worker transcribes a phone call during her shift at the Lewis County 911 Dispatch Center in Chehalis. 

The Board of County Commissioners approved settlement agreement this week after an accusation of unfair labor practices with E911 Communications employees.

The agreement requires Lewis County to pay members of the Teamsters Local 252 Union employed with the 911 Communications Center between October 2015 and March 2016 a sum of $500 each.

The settlement stems from collective bargaining agreements for 2015.

Darren O’Neil, secretary-treasurer for the local union, told The Chronicle that about 16 employees will receive payments.

The settlement was agreed upon by the two parties after the Washington Public Employment Relations Commission found merit to the union’s complaint that the county did not follow bargaining obligations and took back initial proposals in contract negotiations.

According to the union, the county offered an increase of $50 per month to employees of the communications center for health and welfare coverage, but in later meetings the terms changed. 

The initial proposal would have included payments for previous months dating back to January 2015, but when the union received a written proposal, it stated the payments would not begin until November 2015. 

In later collective bargaining meetings, the county never reinstated its initial offer, according to documents provided by the union.

Jessica Bradley, unfair labor practice manager with the state’s Public Employment Relations Commission, said in a letter to both parties that an initial review of the complaint found that unfair labor practice violations appeared to be present. 

According to O’Neil, since the two parties agreed on the settlement prior to going to court, the union’s claim that the county violated bargaining obligations was never proven. 

“There were no findings on whether or not (our claims) were all upheld or not upheld,” O’Neil said. “There’s just a settlement.”

The settlement approved by the commissioners at its Monday meeting initiates the closing of the existing collective bargaining agreement for the 2015 calendar year.

The agenda report stated there would be no retro payment involved in the ratification of the expired E911 contract for 2015. 

After both parties sign the settlement agreement, the unfair labor practice complaint will be dismissed with prejudice. 

The unfair labor practice complaint was initially filed by Teamsters in December 2015. 

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