Article Image
Ely Minnesota Dispute Likely Headed to Arbitration

Saturday, October, 15, 2016

Arbitration appears to be in the future in the Ely City Council dispute regarding the termination of the city’s zoning administrator. Council members voted 6-0 recently to reject the grievance filed by the administrator and request the issue go to arbitration.


Gregg Cramer, a half-time employee, used a city computer to do private subcontractor work for a business owned by a council member. Cramer testified and the city concurred that he used a computer and software owned by the city to prepare maps for a project commissions by the council member’s private organization. The council member abstained from voting and did not participate in the initial decision to terminate Cramer for his actions. Ghas since stepped down from the project. Other members of the city are on the board for the project, but did not abstain. Cramer had been an employee of Ely City for more than three years.


Cramer, with the assistance of the AFSCME union, filed his grievance in mid-September. Ely’s employee relations committee met later that evening, recommending that arbitration be chosen over mediation to settle the matter. One city attorney stated “It’s not often likely a solution is going to be found at mediation.”


Cramer claims he was given approval by the clerk-treasurer to use the city computer for the private job, but the city’s top administrator disagreed and stated he was under the impression he was providing in-kind service to the project, not doing private business.


Ultimately, it will be up to the arbitrator whether or not the city’s actions against Cramer were just, provided AFSCME agrees to the request to arbitrate the matter.