Over 800 city employees to get 2.5% pay increases

Retroactive deal to cost Toledo $1.4M this year

3/18/2014
BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Waniewski
Waniewski

More than 800 city of Toledo employees were granted a pay raise Tuesday, retroactive to Jan. 1, that will cost taxpayers an extra $1.4 million this year.

Toledo City Council voted 11-1 to approve the 2.5 percent wage increase reached by the Collins administration and Local 7 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

Councilman Tom Waniewski cast the lone dissenting vote, as he did two weeks ago regarding an identical pay increase and more sick time for the city’s 911 operators.

“We shouldn’t be approving pay raises when we haven’t even approved the budget,” Mr. Waniewski said. “We are not out of the woods economically, and we can’t afford this. We don't have our budget under control.”

The union’s contract called for a wage reopener this year. The terms revised the union’s contract that runs through June 30. The union ratified the agreement last week, days after the agreement was reached.

Council voted on the agreement after discussing it behind closed doors for about 20 minutes.

Mayor D. Michael Collins said the pay raise would cost the city’s general fund $209,000. The rest would be spread out over other funds, including $633,000 from the city’s department of public utilities.

“It is going to be a stretch, but we can live with it,” Mayor Collins said.

The mayor said his proposed 2014 budget, which council must approve by month’s end, assumed pay raises for the main Local 7 unit and the 911 operators. The 2.5 percent increase for 65 communications operators will cost the city an extra $97,000 this year.

“I had to project the human-capital cost,” the mayor said, indicating he assumed the union members would be getting a raise months before negotiations concluded last week.

Local 7 President Don Czerniak said last year that he expected raises for all Local 7 employees in the contract wage re-openers in both contracts. Mr. Czerniak on Tuesday said the agreement was reached after “back and forth negotiations” but declined to elaborate.

“The last administration refused to negotiate because they were leaving, and they felt it should be the next administration that did that,” Mr. Czerniak said. “I think they gave us an offer they felt they would be able to cover.”

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.

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

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.

“For successor contracts, we are going into a new round of bargaining in May with Local 7, and I anticipate we will be in earnest looking at interest-based bargaining,” Mayor Collins said.

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