Ishpeming drops appeal of MERC union decision

ISHPEMING – The city of Ishpeming has decided to drop its appeal of a Michigan Employment Relations Commission decision to not make the public works superintendent’s job a non-union position.

The Ishpeming City Council last week unanimously approved instructing city attorney David Savu to discontinue the city’s appeal of a case involving the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25.

The city was appealing a decision made by the MERC – which resolves labor disputes involving public and private-sector employees – to keep the Department of Public Works superintendent a union position.

Ishpeming city employees are members of the AFSCME union.

Jon Kangas, interim city manager and Department of Public Works superintendent, has the job that was being disputed and did not participate in any discussions on the issue.

Kangas said the city sought to remove the superintendent position from the union because the superintendent becomes acting city manager when the city manager is out of town or when the position is vacant – as it is now – and the council had taken the position that someone in an “executive role” shouldn’t belong to the union.

Council member Claudia Demarest said that this has been an ongoing dispute since 2009 and that years ago the same thing happened – the council voted to remove the position from the union, then reversed its decision a short time later.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.