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PONTIAC - As contract negotiations with the Livingston County Board drag into a third year, union employees of the county highway department say they are getting frustrated with the delay.

The 10 members of the highway department staff are represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150.

The highway department employees signed on to join the union in November 2003 and started negotiations with the County Board in early 2004, said Ross Joiner, a county employee and a member of the union negotiating team.

"The union has been trying to negotiate but the county isn't," he said.

Issues that seem to divide the union and the county are raises, clothing allowances and personnel codes, Joiner said.

County Board Chairman Bill Flott said the county continues to be willing to sit down at the negotiating table and work out a contract with the union.

"It has been a very slow process," Flott said.

Flott could not comment on the specifics of negotiations with the union because it is a matter of mediation.

Union members frustrated with the delay in negotiating a contract held an informational picket at the County Board meeting last week.

"We decided we had had enough so we wanted to bring it to everyone's attention," Joiner said.

Both sides have been negotiating through a federal mediator and met last week over an issue regarding a clothing allowance that workers want in the contract.

Flott said negotiations may be going long, but the process of mediating the contract needs time to work.

"We do want to get the contract negotiated and get this solved," Flott said.

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