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Published: Friday, 1/27/2006

Health benefits contract ratified by 2 UT unions

Members of two unions at the University of Toledo who previously threatened to strike this week overwhelmingly ratified a two-year health contract with the administration yesterday.

Members of the American Association of University Professors, which includes the university's faculty members, voted 89 percent in favor of the latest contract offer, which would be extended until Dec. 31, 2007.

Harvey Wolff, president of the professors' union, said he was happy so many union members were behind the contract.

"Once we started meeting with our union members, it was pretty evident it was going to pass - we weren't too sure how overwhelmingly it was going to pass," he said. "The union is happy that it's over and we want to move forward from here."

The Communication Workers of America Local 4319 also approved the pact. About 90 percent of those who voted agreed to ratify the same health package, said Ron Honse, that union's president.

"I think the members realize in today's times we need to compromise," Mr. Honse said last night. "Both parties got an equitable agreement."

A third bargaining unit on campus, the University of Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, ratified the same health contract during voting earlier this week.

The three unions bargain together for health benefits but separately for financial packages.

All unions last year reached separate agreements with administrators on those issues.

Last week, union leaders and administrators announced the tentative contract agreement, which was voted on by the two largest unions yesterday. That agreement canceled plans for a strike that had been scheduled to occur four days ago.

The health-care package, which still requires the approval of the UT board of trustees when it meets on Monday, calls for the first-ever coverage for same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partner benefits. Users will be charged a monthly premium.

The contract also charges working spouses of employees who want their health coverage at the university.

Both sides last week described the contract as a compromise package.

Jim Sciarini, UT's associate vice president of human resources, said recently that the university expected to experience $1.5 million in cost reductions as a result of the contract.

Meanwhile, UT President Dan Johnson and Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, president of the Medical University of Ohio, will appear on The Editors television show this weekend. The show will be broadcast at 9 tonight on WGTE-TV, Channel 30, and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.

The two were questioned during a taping yesterday by Thomas Walton, vice president and editor of The Blade.

The universities recently announced plans to merge their institutions, which is a topic of the show.



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