Six city of Woodburn employees will keep their jobs, but only after their wages are cut between 31 and 42 percent, according to an agreement reached last week between the city and union representatives.

Under the agreement, three facilities or custodial employees and three parks maintenance employees will see their wages drop to $11.54 per hour starting Oct. 1, but they will keep their benefits, said Jason Horton, communications coordinator for the city.

The agreement staved off an earlier plan to contract the positions out to private contractors in an attempt to save money and plug budget shortfalls.

“I think we’re achieving savings by going this route and we get to keep our employees who are hard workers and provide a high level of service for the city,” Horton said.

Keeping the jobs in-house also will allow the city to maintain institutional knowledge of its long-time employees and give the city the ability to use those employees in other areas if needed, according to Scott Derickson, city administrator.

The wage cuts will drop the wages of three facilities or custodian positions from a range of $16.73 to $17.61 per hour, according to Horton.

The city’s three remaining parks maintenance employees, who make between $17.61 an hour and $19.88 per hour, also will be reduced to $11.54 per hour, Horton said.

The new salaries are more in line with market rates, but still above minimum wage, Horton said.

The employees union reached the agreement after making sure the employees would keep their sick leave, holiday pay, PERS and other benefits, said Jerry Tabler, a city employee and union president for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 642.

At least two of the six employees indicated they would stay with the city despite the salary cut, Tabler said.

“We were just grateful that the city worked with us, keeping these jobs in house and not contracting,” Tabler said. “The contract says we have the right to renegotiate and we’re glad the city wanted to go this route.”

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