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Important Information From the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District

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

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.

The latest District proposal (Concept Proposal #10) was presented to employees March 21, 2022 and rejected by the union. That proposal represented an approximate 3.5% increase annually for 5 years (2021-2025) and included provisions for recognition of longevity with the District. It froze the cost share of health care at present levels until the last year of the contract when a modest adjustment to the cost share percentages would change. Currently, the District pays 83% of average health care premiums for any combination of the employee, spouse and children.

Current union wages are between $21.34/hr and $32.96/hr, averaging about $25.80/hr. Wages made up 53% of the operating budget for 2022. A 3.5%  increase could result in about a $.90 escalation in assessments per acre.

For a copy of Concept Proposal #10 please contact Wendy Lange at wlange@ecbid.org

The 2022 irrigation season is starting strong, similar to the 2021 irrigation season startup, which had remarkably high demand early. All District staff are working very hard to ensure consistent delivery of service. We will keep you posted on future updates.

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