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Preview: County approves contract with Jailors union despite opposition

WORTHINGTON -- Despite a request from Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening and Jail Administrator Monette Berkevich to table a three-year labor agreement between the county and Teamsters Local 320 (the union for the jailors), Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the agreement.

Wilkening and Berkevich cited concerns with specific language in the contract pertaining to leave and vacation time for jail employees. Wilkening also voiced his disappointment in not being invited to the contract discussions between the union, Nobles County Administrator Mel Ruppert and county commissioners Diane Thier and Vern Leistico.

"This is going to be very problematic," Wilkening told the board. "I think we need to put this on hold until we have a chance to talk about this with the Teamsters."

Commissioner Marv Zylstra, who spoke with Wilkening on Monday, explained the bidding process for vacation time that was in place for jail employees, as well as the seniority that allows senior employees precedence on selecting days off. According to the last contract, after Feb. 1, senior employees no longer have precedence over days requested by those with lower seniority.

"In the new contract they took away the two-week limit, so it's unlimited what you can request," explained Zylstra. "You could take up to three weeks off, and then, during that open period (after Feb. 1), it's still going to be based on seniority."

"We've already had requests for five weeks off from someone on our senior staff -- for three weeks in June and two weeks in August," said Wilkening.

For the rest of the story, read tomorrow's Daily Globe.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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