CRYSTAL FALLS—When the new Iron County Board of Commissioners is seated Jan. 8, one of the first issues it will consider is how to enforce employee contracts.
Administrator Sue Clisch told the board that the past practice of paying retirement benefits prior to an employee leaving the county’s payroll violates union contracts.
The issue was brought to the board when two employees; Melanie Camps and Joetta Greig, sought release of benefits. Both were elected to non-union, administrative positions in November.
But the union contracts that covered the employees prior to their election allow for payment upon retirement.
“If we are not going to go by the contracts, then why do we have them?” Clisch asked the County Board.
“Unless the contract provides for the payout, it [the County Board] doesn’t have to pay out,” attorney Steven Tinti told commissioners.
The county administrator had sought advice from Grand Rapids labor attorney Steven Gerard. Gerard viewed the past practice as illegal and contacted the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The IRS advised that the County Board adhere to the contracts, Clisch said.
“We have signed contracts. Those are agreements between both parties,” Commissioner Carl Lind said. “This concerns me.” Lind is the only returning member to the County Board.