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Inappropriate conduct discipline settled with union

MONTESANO — The city of Montesano and Teamsters Local 252 have foregone arbitration of pending discipline between three Public Works employees accused of looking at inappropriate content and have settled their differences.

The city was looking at a bill of upwards of $40,000 had the issue gone to arbitration.

Two employees, including one that admitted to watching pornography on city time, received a one-day suspension without pay. The third employee, who admitted to visiting pornography websites and escort websites while on the job, received a five-day suspension without pay. The agreement, signed Nov. 22 and turned over to The Vidette with a public records request, allows the employees to use their vacation time instead of being mandated to take unpaid days off.

One of the employees has already served his suspension day. The suspensions came about after a half-year investigation into whether city employees were wasting time. In just the Public Works department, the investigators uncovered more than 96,000 images — not all pornographic — and more than 8,000 hours of personal use on city computers and iPads.

The City Council is now considering new policies to hamper down the use of city equipment for personal use.

Mayor Ken Estes had originally proposed suspending employees for five to 10 days, depending on the degree of the accusations lodged against them.

The city and the Teamsters union had reached a tentative settlement back on Oct. 28. Then, public records show, Mayor Estes made an appearance on KBKW radio and talked about the settlement and made statements on the radio that angered employees and their union. Three days later, the business representative for the union issued a letter demanding the case go into arbitration. It took another month to settle the case.

Mayor Estes says he’s grateful the case has been resolved and is looking forward to making critical policy changes.