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Published: 8/28/2003

City worker health costs rise for now

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After rejecting a proposed contract earlier this month, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees in Oregon will have to pay higher health insurance premiums until a new pact is signed.

Oregon City Council voted in June to contribute toward the payment of premiums for those 75 city employees, limiting their contribution for the insurance to $30 a month. But that deal expired July 31 and now each employee will have to pay about $100 a month, said Mark Wineland, president of AFSCME Local 755.

Monday night, the council agreed to a similar heath insurance agreement for the city's 40 professional, supervisory and technical employees. Benefit levels for those non-bargaining employees regularly are addressed at the end of negotiations with the city's bargaining units. Monday night's ordinance will keep their premiums at $30 a month.

Mr. Wineland questioned why the council had not offered to continue supplementing his union members' health insurance premiums as the negotiations continue.

“There is nothing to address our hardship,” Mr. Wineland said. “I'm not clear why the same consideration was not made for the members of the bargaining unit.”

AFSCME members rejected a contract on Aug. 11 that would have granted them no wage increases for the first year, but would have kept the health insurance premiums at $30 per month. The city's police officers and firefighters unions have agreed to similar contracts.

Ken Filipiak, city administrator, said the city is working diligently to reach an agreement with its AFSCME unit.

“We would like to conclude these negotiations within a reasonable time,” Mr. Filipiak said. “With respect to PSTE, they are accepting the same deal we have made with two of our other bargaining units.”

In other business, City Council:

w Voted 7-0 to contribute $51,000 to the Oregon on the Bay Economic Development Foundation, which promotes development in the city.

“As a contributing partner, we are here to support your efforts of bringing business into the city,” Councilman Tony Romano said to Dean Monske, the Foundation's executive director.

w Agreed to spend nearly $24,000 on equipment for a new video system that will allow its municipal judge to communicate with jail inmates through television screens.

Currently, city police officers transport inmates from the Lucas County Jail or the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, Stryker, to Oregon Municipal court.



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