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Union, city struggle to strike deal

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By David Giuliani

An official from the city’s biggest union says it’s having a difficult time reaching a new agreement with the city.

Chris Armijo, a representative of the city chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, tried to air the union’s views during the public input portion of Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

But Councilman Morris Madrid, who was presiding over the meeting in Mayor Tony Marquez’s absence, advised the union not to discuss the particulars of the negotiations. He said the union shouldn’t discuss the details because doing so would “contaminate” the process.

“We have kept the process pure and not discussed it with anyone,” Madrid said.

Armijo, however, said the union had talked with its attorney and that members got the approval to speak publicly.

“We are headed into an impasse. We are going into mediation,” he said.

Armijo said the union made a last-ditch effort and met with City Manager Timothy Dodge and two city directors, but all the members got were threats of layoffs, unpaid furloughs and budget cuts.

Dodge denied that he ever threatened union members.

Madrid again advised the union not to speak publicly.

“We have to answer to our constituents. You have to answer to your members. You’re on the record as saying we’re past the point of no return,” Madrid said.

Armijo said he would decline to speak if the union could get a meeting with city officials early Thursday morning.

The City Council agreed to that request, and as a result, Armijo didn’t discuss the union’s positions publicly.