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Union cries foul over city hiring

When longtime employee Geri Askelson retired as secretary from the Public Works Department, the city of Detroit Lakes decided to hire a non-union worker to replace her. Now the union is suing the city.

City Administrator Rich Grabow said City Attorney Bill Briggs recommended the city hire an attorney who specializes in this type of case -- Labor Relations Services.

When Askelson retired, Grabow and Public Works Director Brad Green decided it would be best to hire a confidential -- or non-union -- secretary.

"There were situations we've had to leave her (Askelson) out of the loop when we really shouldn't have," Grabow said.

There may have been personnel matters that Askelson wasn't made aware of because she was a part of the AFSCME union.

Grabow said the League of Minnesota Cities attorney has told him the city of Detroit Lakes has "good footing" in the case, but that doesn't necessarily mean the city would win in a legal battle.

The Detroit Lakes City Council has agreed to hire an attorney for the process.