Columbia, MO – The Columbia City Council has voluntarily recognized water distribution workers as members of Laborers (LiUNA) Local 955, which represents around 250 workers in the city.
The unanimous vote followed an Oct. 10 rally in which Local 955 members, elected officials, allied union members and community supporters rallied outside Columbia City Hall to call out city management’s refusal to bargain in good faith with the workers.
Laborers Local 955 Union Representative Andrew Hutchinson says the city’s roughly 27 water distribution workers will now have a place at the negotiating table.
“Our members work at the University (of Missouri), they work at the city, up in Kirksville, at Truman, at the hospital here‚ but the one thing that brings them all together is that they are all essential workers, and they are working hard to keep food on the table for their families but also make sure their communities thrive,” Hutchinson told KOMU 8 in Columbia
The water distribution workers requested voluntary recognition of their union on July 20, but city management dragged its feet on beginning discussions around voluntary recognition – eventually holding a meeting on Sept. 11.
The city and the union traded proposals back and forth for a few days until Sept. 15, when city management, rather than continuing negotiations, decided to implement the city’s own economic package and ignore the ongoing negotiations with Local 955.
That changed after the Oct. 10 rally.
Local 955 members, and all Missouri workers, have the constitutional right to collective bargaining and organizing a union under Section 29 of the Missouri Constitution.