By Diane Madigan
Independent Special Writer
During an 11-minute special meeting on March 27, the Van Buren Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously to extend the recently approved AFSCME contract by one year.
The meeting first was scheduled as a closed-door session, but the board decided not to go into closed session and took care of its business in public.
The only person in the audience was the Independent reporter.
The board had a bare quorum of Supervisor Linda Combs, Treasurer Sharry Budd, Clerk Wright and Trustee Jeff Jahr.
Absent and excused were Trustees Phil Hart, Reggie Miller, and Brenda McClanahan.
A two-year contract for the 26 members of Local 236 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) was approved by the VBT board on Feb. 5.
The new contract ran from Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2014. It had no wage increases, but there is a $750 signing bonus for 2012, a $750 bonus for 2013 and a $500 bonus payable in 2014.
After action at the March 27 township board meeting, the contract now runs one year longer, through Dec. 31, 2015.
Clerk Leon Wright said the board received a request from AFSCME to extend the current contract date.
“This date was the original date that the township had asked for,” Clerk Wright said, adding this gives the township an additional year without wage increases and, “It actually benefits us to extend this contract.”
AFSCME wage talks will open Jan. 1, 2015 and contract negotiations will start July 1, 2015.
The March 27 contract extension took place just hours before the Michigan Right to Work law went into effect on March 28. Any contract extended or negotiated after March 28 can no longer contain a union security provision and once contracts expire, members can choose to opt out of the union and stop paying dues.
Brenda Kurtz, president of Local 236, declined comment on the reason for seeking the contract extension.
By Diane Madigan