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Mequon tweaks employee benefits

Sick days reduced; longest serving staff lose five vacation days

April 11, 2012

Mequon - Under the watchful eyes of about 50 employees, the Mequon Common Council on Tuesday night approved changes to its personnel code that establish employment practices and guidelines for city jobs.

Some of the changes were the result of Acts 10 and 32 that limited collective bargaining to wages only for union members; others were part of an effort to provide employees with a competitive wage and benefit package in a time of tight budgets.

Several employees addressed the council asking that holiday, sick time and vacations remain the same.

Jeremy Weinrich spoke on behalf of the city's Public Works employees, noting that most have made careers of their jobs.

"The benefits package is one incentive for employment," Weinrich said. He cited his own experience with the city's sick leave policy.

When his first wife became ill with brain cancer five years ago, the ability of employees to donate unused sick time to other employees allowed Weinrich to spend time with his wife and have the ability to pay his mortgage and bills.

Andrew Nerbun, alderman-elect in the 7th District, also addressed the council. He compared the holiday, vacation and sick day changes in Grafton and Germantown to those proposed in Mequon and found Mequon's came up short in comparison. Nerbun suggested the council send that portion of the code back to committee for further review.

After hearing the employees reasoning, the council agreed to cut sick days from the previous 12 to 8, rather than the three suggested in the revised code. Employees will also be able to accrue up to 180 days of sick time, donate sick days to other employees, and use accrued sick time for the cost of up to 18 months of health insurance at the time of retirement.

Going forward, employees will have only 9.5 instead of the current 12 holidays and the top tier of vacation allotment will be eliminated. In the past workers with more than 25 years of service had 30 work days off but that will change to 25 days.

The council asked city staff to present a plan for paid time off, a hybrid plan that provides employees with a set number of paid days off that may be used as personal, sick or vacation time.

Alderman John Wirth was frustrated because the Finance and Personnel Committee has asked for the plan since last August or September and has not yet received it, but City Administrator Lee Szymborski said staff plans to present it to the committee at an upcoming meeting. The paid time off plan could become part of the personnel code at a later date, replacing sections approved Tuesday.

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