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Published: Thursday, 3/29/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Main police union OKs 3-year contract

Toledo City Council to vote Thursday

BY CLAUDIA BOYD-BARRETT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
President of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association Dan Wagner. President of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association Dan Wagner.
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Toledo's main police officers' union approved a new, three-year contract with the city on Wednesday, all but bringing an end to months of effort by the Bell administration to secure concessions from its larger bargaining units.

City council will meet Thursday to vote on the pact which, having secured the union's backing, is expected to pass. Vote tallies were not made available on Wednesday, but city spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said the contract received enough votes to pass.

The agreement includes several favorable terms for members of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, including a 2.5 percent pay raise in 2013, and another 3 percent raise in 2014. Officers would also receive a lump-sum payment of $1,500 in April, and another $1,000 in both 2013 and 2014.

In return, union members must pay more toward their pension and health-care costs. The city's practice of picking up the officers' share of their pension contributions would be eliminated starting in April, and their health-care rates would rise from between $48 and $98 a month in 2012, depending on coverage, to between $92 and $166 a month in 2014.

Taken together, TPPA President Dan Wagner said the officers would suffer, on average, an $8,600 cut in their take-home pay over the life of the contract.

"At face value it looks really good, based on the raises and lump-sum payments." Mr. Wagner said. "But couple that with the givebacks -- the pension pickup and the health care -- we end up losing money."

Leaders of Toledo's main firefighter's union, Local 92, offered a similar analysis after that unit approved a contract on March 8. The deal also increased employee pension and health-care costs, tempered with a one-time lump-sum payment and pay increases in 2013 and 2014. Firefighters' union President Wayne Hartford said the contract would cut firefighter pay by about 4 percent over the three years.

President of AFSCME Local 7 Don Czerniak. President of AFSCME Local 7 Don Czerniak.
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Such concessions offered little comfort to Don Czerniak, president of the city service workers' union AFSCME Local 7, which approved its own contract with the Bell administration in October. Mr. Czerniak said his union's contract was far more concessionary than those obtained by the police and firefighters, even though his members typically get less money. The average AFSCME Local 7 member -- who ranges from a tree trimmer to a sewer worker -- makes $38,000 a year. A TPPA member with five years' experience will be paid $56,000 a year in 2012.

AFSCME members also saw their health-care costs increase and are paying more toward pensions, although by 2014 the city will still pick up 3 percent of the 10 percent pension contribution. Their lump-sum payment is $750 for all three years of the contract, and they did not receive a pay increase.

"It seems pretty funny that they take the savings out of the lower-paid people in the city and then reward some of the highest-paid people in the city," Mr. Czerniak said.

"The members aren't happy at all, believe me. Especially when the administration, including the mayor, said that we would spread this out among all the bargaining units. ... Obviously that statement isn't true because it looks like it's all Local 7."

Mr. Wagner agreed TPPA got a better deal than Local 7. He attributed the difference to the political climate at the time of the Local 7 negotiations. During those months, a debate raged across the state over efforts by Gov. John Kasich to limit the bargaining power of public-employee unions. Officials mediating union disputes were being careful not to be too favorable toward the union side, Mr. Wagner speculated. The debate came out in favor of the unions, with voters rejecting Issue 2 in November.

But Ms. Sorgenfrei said comparing the different contracts was like trying to compare apples to oranges.

"We negotiate in good faith with every bargaining unit that we have and the terms of the Local 7 were terms that were negotiated in good faith," she said. "They're not the same job, they're not the same pay ranges. I think all the contracts were concessionary agreements and they were reflective of what we needed to achieve in order to keep the budget in balance."

Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett at cbarrett@theblade.com or 419-724-6272.


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