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East Columbia Basin Irrigation District Announces Union Negotiations Stall; Possible Service Impact

Othello, WA.- The East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID) has announced that negotiations with the Columbia Basin Irrigation Council stalled when union representatives rejected the most recent proposal. Negotiations began in the fall of 2020 and District leadership submitted the 16th iteration of a proposed contract to union leadership on March 21, 2022. There are 44 ECBID employees represented by the union. 

Contested issues includes wages, benefits, and stipends. The wage of union members remains at 2020 levels until an agreement is reached, and currently averages approximately $25.80 per hour. 

Given the stalled negotiations, District leadership is concerned that there may be an impact to service. Water delivery service began on March 23. 

“We are very disappointed that we have not been able to reach an agreement but remain committed to resolving contested issues through our current mediation efforts with the Council. We value our employees and the service they provide our landowners. We have demonstrated their importance to our operations in preceding contracts and through this and previous offers. We still hope to reach a mutually agreeable outcome by recognizing our employees’ value to the District but feel an obligation to keep costs reasonable for our landowners. Large jumps in wages and other O&M costs result in assessment increases to landowners. We are working diligently to be fair and competitive with our proposals to our union members while acting as good stewards of our budget for the Directors and their landowners,” explained District Secretary-Manager Craig Simpson. 

Located in central Washington State, the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District is the largest district in the state, with authorization to irrigate 472,000 acres. Currently, 169,000 acres are developed and managed by 4,500 landowners within the federal Columbia Basin Project. Additionally, the District is involved in the development of 87,000 acres associated with the Odessa Groundwater Replacement Program (OGWRP). The District provides a reliable supply of water that irrigates the cropland that produces food shipped domestically and internationally.

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