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City refuse workers give strike notice

Toledo trash collectors and sewage treatment plant workers have notified the city of their intent to strike on Dec. 18, and Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's office is making plans for trash drop-off locations if they do.

The notice comes a month after Teamsters Local 20 rejected a fact-finder's report that called for the employees to get 9 per cent pay increases over the next three years, plus 2 per cent pension contributions paid by the city.

The administration had offered to accept the fact-finder's report, but withdrew that offer when the strike notice was filed yesterday. The two sides met for negotiations on Monday - their first meeting since the union rejected the report.

Because of the strike notice, state regulations require that both sides sit down with a mediator from the State Employment Relations Board to try to reach a settlement. Local 20 represents more than 200 city employees. Their contract expired in December, 1999. Union President Les Singer could not be reached for comment.

“We had hoped that the talks would be more fruitful. I do not believe Teamsters' leaders have made a wise decision,” the mayor said in a statement yesterday. In a memo to city council, the mayor wrote: “We must prepare to maintain services in the event of a work stoppage.”

The mayor sent council an ordinance to provide trash drop-off boxes throughout the city for residents' use, and to open the city landfill for residents to dump their own trash, in the event of a strike. Council spent more than 31/2 hours in executive session yesterday discussing the possible strike and the contract negotiations, but it did not vote on the mayor's proposal, President Peter Ujvagi said. He said the ideas were reasonable and council would approve them if the strike occurred. However, council was urging both sides to continue bargaining until an agreement is reached, Mr. Ujvagi said.

Mayor Finkbeiner told council in his memo that although union members are hard-working, they are asking for more than other city employees have received, and more than the city could afford to pay them.

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