Friday, January 25, 2008

Appeals Court Upholds AFSCME Benefits

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit today upheld the award of benefits for members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2957, which was compelled to sue the city of Benton after the City Council voted to breach the collective bargaining agreement and discontinue medical retirement benefits promised to retirees and to reduce benefits included in the union's contract with the city.

Terry White, President of Local 2957, said, “The city promised us something that they wanted to take away. I hate that the city had to spend all that money fighting something that they had agreed to give us.”

AFSCME Local 965 member Jim Nickels was the attorney representing the union and three retired employees who won their case last February. In reviewing an earlier ruling, Nickels noted that the court ruled that “the city had entered into a contract and was bound by the contract. Basically, this was an attempt by the City Council to take away those contractual benefits, and the court ruling says this action is null and void.”

“When those employees worked, they provided their end of the bargain,” Nickels said. “The city promised they would have health insurance when they retired and that the city would pay for it, but the city reneged on the promise.” The rulings of the court, Nickels said, are based on “if you make a promise, stand by the promise.”

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