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

Toledo City Council OKs police concessionary contract

BY CLAUDIA BOYD-BARRETT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo’s police officers joined the ranks of city workers paying more for their health-care and pensions costs Thursday after council unanimously approved a new contract aimed at reining in labor costs.

The contract with the 459-member Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association is expected to save the city $4.8 million over the next three years. That, combined with another $4.1 million in savings secured recently from the largest firefighters’ union, $3 million from the city’s service worker union, and concessions obtained from some smaller units, will help the Bell administration keep its 2012 budget on track, city officials said.

“We’re pretty happy with it,” Mayor Mike Bell said after council’s vote Thursday. “What we’re shooting for here is structural changes that will allow us to work within the framework of what the taxpayers can pay.”

As part of the TPPA agreement, officers who previously paid nothing toward their pensions will have to contribute 10 percent of their salaries toward retirement starting next month. Their health-care rates will rise from between $48 and $98 a month in 2012, depending on coverage, to between $92 and $166 a month in 2014.

In return for the pension changes, members will receive a $1,500 lump-sum payment this year and $1,000 in both subsequent years. Officers will also get a 2.5 percent pay raise in 2013, and a 3 percent raise in 2014.

TPPA President Dan Wagner said the result of the agreement, despite its upsides, is a $8,600 cut in take-home pay for officers over the course of the three years.

The concessions are the biggest the union has made, marking the first time TPPA members have agreed to permanently pick up the employee share of pension costs, he said.

“There’s a lot of people that are upset about it, and there’s some that aren’t so upset about it, that can live with it,” Mr. Wagner said. “Whenever you take a loss in take-home pay, no one’s going to be happy. But people are going to make adjustments.”

Negotiations with the city — which required the mediation of an independent fact finder — were “extremely difficult,” Mr. Wagner said. In the end, however, the contract was as good as could be expected, the union president said.

“The outcome’s not perfect,” Mr. Wagner said. “But the process was there where we both came in, we both left unhappy, but we can live with the final result. We both gave and both took some.”

TPPA’s contract marks the end of months of negotiations between the city and all of its largest unions, as well as some smaller ones. Mayor Bell said he was glad to have the bulk of labor bargaining complete. Union negotiations have been a constant throughout his administration, he said, starting with efforts in 2010 to plug a massive budget deficit.

“We’ve been negotiating with our unions since the first day we got in here,” the mayor said. “Now I think we can get about the business of the people and take care of some of the issues they’re concerned about because we know where we’re sitting with our finances.”

Councilman George Sarantou, who is chairman of the finance committee, applauded the TPPA deal, which he said means the city will not have to make adjustments to its 2012 budget.

“These are real savings,” he said.

Although Toledo’s tax revenues are slowing increasing, they are still far behind prerecession levels, and the city has to be careful how much it spends, he said.

“We have a long way to go,” Mr. Sarantou said. “This has been the worst recession since the Great Depression and it will take us several years to have a full recovery.”

Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett

at cbarrett@theblade.com

or 419-724-6272.



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