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Published: Tuesday, 10/8/2013

Construction unions endorse Collins for mayor

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Mayoral candidate Mike Collins, left, listens, as Northwestern Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council executive secretary John Schlagheck, right, announces their endorsement of Collins at their headquarters on Front Street. Mayoral candidate Mike Collins, left, listens, as Northwestern Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council executive secretary John Schlagheck, right, announces their endorsement of Collins at their headquarters on Front Street.
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The Northwestern Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council on Tuesday announced its pick for Toledo mayor, its members choosing the candidate they consider the union-friendly one.

The council, an umbrella organization covering 22 union locals, endorsed D. Michael Collins over incumbent Mike Bell during a news conference outside its East Toledo office building.

“He has in his mind, all the time, union people,” said John Schlaghack, the council's executive secretary. Mr. Collins, a retired Toledo police officer who was elected a district councilman in 2007 as a political independent, is trying to unseat Mayor Bell at next month’s general election.

Mr. Schlaghack stressed the importance of Mr. Collins’ history as a former president of the police patrolmen’s union.

Several other unions have announced support for Mr. Collins since he advanced past Councilman Joe McNamara and Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, both Democrats, in the Sept. 10 nonpartisan primary.

Last month the United Auto Workers and Ohio Democratic Party threw their support behind Mr. Collins. Local 50 of the Plumbers, Steamfitters & Service Mechanics endorsed Mr. Collins in September and handed him a $10,000 check. Mr. Collins said Mayor Bell ignored the building and construction trades council in 2011 when it offered to buy a large portion of the east side Marina District that was then sold to Chinese investors.

At the time, Mayor Bell said he would not sign a proposed memorandum of understanding written by the union group because it did not have a business plan. According to the nonbinding document, the building trades union group wanted to buy all of the city’s title and interest in the property for $3,800,001 — a dollar more than the Chinese investors’ company, Dashing Pacific Group Ltd., offered for about 69 acres.

Mr. Schlaghack said the property was sold to Dashing Pacific more than two years ago and there has been no development.

Mayor Bell has drawn the ire of nearly every local union for his support of forced concessions by city unions in 2010 and Senate Bill 5 in 2011. He was a proponent of Senate Bill 5/​Issue 2, the bill that would have weakened public employee unions’ ability to bargain collectively. It was defeated in a referendum after a campaign in which Toledo Firefighters Local 92, Mr. Bell’s former union, was one of the most active opponents. Mayor Bell has also said that he could support “right to work” legislation under some circumstances.

The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce in September endorsed Mayor Bell’s bid for re-election. In 2009, the chamber donated $16,000 to Mr. Bell’s campaign.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.



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