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Vlieger continues pressuring Council to open collective bargaining meetings to S'side residents

Sunnyside City Councilman Don Vlieger brought back an old issue at the beginning of the new year during this past Monday night's meeting.

Vlieger brought before the Council an item he lobbied for extensively in 2003, namely making everything but the initial strategy session in collective bargaining meetings open to the public.

At Monday's meeting, Vlieger officially re-introduced the item for Council consideration. Vlieger tried unsuccessfully once last year to get collective bargaining meetings held in the open. Vlieger reintroduced the idea at Monday night's meeting with two new councilman, James Restucci and Alex de la Cruz, aboard. The item will be before Council for consideration and possible approval at the Monday, Jan. 19, meeting.

Assistant City Manager/City Attorney Mark Kunkler provided the Council with some information on Vlieger's proposal. Kunkler said what the councilman is proposing would create a new section to the Council's rules of procedure.

If approved, the new section would state that all discussions by the Council concerning collective bargaining shall be held in public with the exception of the initial strategy session. "Generally, Council strategy for collective bargaining shall be directed to analysis and direction of total costs of proposed employee wages and benefits and proposed policy determinations that may impact and could be applicable to other bargaining units of the City of Sunnyside," the new section further states. "Any proposed modification of the established strategy for any bargaining unit will be discussed in executive session prior to the consideration of adoption in open session."

Mayor Ed Prilucik said that with the wording of the resolution, if passed, there would be a lot of emphasis by Council on the initial strategy session.

Vlieger asked to delay discussion on his proposal until it was presented for a vote on Jan. 19.

Vlieger has been advocating for the past few months on making the collective bargaining process public because he, as stated at past meetings, believes the process will bankrupt cities. Vlieger has also stated that he feels the citizens have every right to know where their money is being spent.

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at mkantman@eaglenewspapers.com

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