MID begins labor talks with union

jsmith@mercedsunstar.comMarch 9, 2013 

The Merced Irrigation District has started labor negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents 90 MID employees.

"We're currently in bargaining with the district and have agreed to ground rules, but I can't go into details on items being discussed," said Charley Souders, business representative with IBEW 1245.

The district declined to comment.

The negotiations come on the heels of a tense election year, when "worker morale" was a constant talking point for a number of the recently elected MID board members.

"I'm just hoping they treat the men fair," said Billy Pimentel, who replaced Wil Hunter as the director for Division 5.

The union made concessions during the last bargaining session in the areas of wages, retirement, health and welfare, with no cost-of-living adjustment, Souders said.

"The bargaining unit agreed to concessions during the last set of negotiations ... that have helped the district in getting into the solid financial condition that it's in today," he said.

The district is hoping to complete negotiations before the union's contract term ends in March 31, said MID board Chairman Tim Pellissier.

"I don't expect it to be easy," he said. "It never is. We haven't heard their demands yet."

Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or jsmith@mercedsunstar.com.

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