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Published: Sunday, 3/28/2004

Union locals representing TPS staff approve 2-year contract extensions

Five union locals representing about 1,200 Toledo Public Schools employees approved a two-year contract extension yesterday that will add health-care co-payments or monthly premiums and delay raises until funds are available.

"We were extremely happy," said Pat Cook, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 2174, which has about 360 clerical and technical workers.

Their range of wages will remain at $12.50 an hour for a nurse's office assistant up to $18.50 an hour for an experienced secretary, computer operator, or accounting specialist.

Her local approved the contract extension 89-33 with one abstention.

Gene Vicroy, president of Local 272, said his group of skilled trades workers easily passed the contract extension. But he was not nearly as enthusiastic about the agreement, which will hold wages for his nearly 150 workers at about $14.50 an hour for truck drivers up to about $20 an hour for computer technicians.

"I'd say I'm satisfied," he said. "These are bad times for everybody, and there's not much to be happy about."

The health-care changes from the AFSCME locals, along with similar changes from teachers and administrators, together are expected to save the district $4.7 million per year. But the district still projects a $12 million deficit for the year, beginning July 1.

School board President David Welch said the unions' approval of the contract extensions will allow school leaders to concentrate on academics and a levy request for the November ballot. The board has not decided whether to ask voters to renew an expiring 6.6-mill, five-year operating levy that raises $15.7 million a year or to ask them for more money, he said.

The school board is expected to consider the contract extensions on Tuesday.

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