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Published: Tuesday, 3/4/2014 - Updated: 5 months ago

Council OKs raise in pay, sick time for 911 operators

Collins denies deal was union payback

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo City Council has approved a pay increase and more sick time for the city’s 911 operators after Mayor D. Michael Collins came to a deal with the group’s union, which supported his election last year.

The agreement grants a 2.5 percent wage increase and increases sick days by another 2½ days annually, bringing the total to 10 for 65 communications operators.

Council voted 11-1 to approve the agreement with AFSCME Local 7 Communications Officers at a special meeting Tuesday.

Councilman Tom Waniewski voted no.

“Until our accounting gets turned around, I am not in favor of raises for anyone,” Mr. Waniewski said. “I think we set the wrong example for the public ... and when we stop taking money out of the [capital improvements budget], we can talk about raises.”

The union’s contract called for a wage reopener this year.

The terms, which are retroactive to Jan. 3, revises the union’s current contract that runs through June 30.

The union unanimously ratified the agreement Friday.

Mayor Collins said the 911 operators had gone six years without a raise and gave up 6 percent toward state retirement payments in the current contract.

The raises will cost the city an extra $97,000 this year.

“I believe, first off, the most important part of any organization is people,” Mayor Collins said.

The mayor said the union’s support of his campaign played no role in the negotiations.

“This was not a quid pro quo,” he said.

Mayor Collins had wide support from organized labor in the election against Mayor Mike Bell in November.

The wage reopener is the first agreement negotiated by the Collins administration.

Mayor Collins, a retired police officer and former district councilman, was the president of the police patrolmen’s union for a decade.

The main AFSCME Local 7 unit, representing about 800 city employees, also has a wage reopener this year under its current contract, which expires on June 30.

Local 7 President Don Czerniak said last year he expected raises for all Local 7 employees.

Mr. Czerniak on Tuesday was more coy, saying, “we will have to see how negotiations go.”

He said it was “disheartening” that Mr. Wanieski voted against the agreement.

Under existing deals, rank-and-file firefighters who belong to Toledo Firefighters Local 92 will get 3.5 percent raises in August, battalion chiefs get 3 percent increases in January, and police officers get 3 percent pay raises in July.

Toledo City Council has not yet approved the Collins proposed 2014 budget, which predicts a $418,000 general fund surplus because total revenues are projected to reach $245.28 million while 2014 spending is set to be $244.86 million.

The additional salary costs had been built into the proposed budget, city spokesman Lisa Ward said.

In other business Tuesday, council reviewed a proposal to spend $1.2 million for 800 new fire hydrants, which is a three-year replacement supply, Public Utilities Director Robin Whitney said. The city has about 10,700 hydrants.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com,

419-724-6171, or on

Twitter @IgnazioMessina.



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