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Published: Friday, 1/16/2009

700 ready to work if union walks out

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Finkbeiner Finkbeiner
JETTA FRASER / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The city of Toledo collected 700 resumes in just three days from potential replacement workers who could be employed in case of a strike by American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 7, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said yesterday.

The union, which represents about 800 city workers, rejected two separate three-year contracts.

Mayor Finkbeiner said there is no money for raises but stressed that talks between the two sides were ongoing.

"There is no more money in the bank called the city of Toledo," the mayor said. "The recession we are in eliminates the possibility of raises."

The city began seeking applications to possibly fill the hundreds of positions needed to operate local government, including truck drivers and data entry clerks, by purchasing an advertisement in Sunday's Blade.

Local 7 President Don Czerniak yesterday said the union has no immediate plans to strike but he indicated that could change if Toledo City Council approved the contract rejected by the union's members.

"If City Council voted in that contract, it would be a toss-up to either accept that contract or vote to strike," Mr. Czerniak said. "We came up with some serious concessions and if they come back with the same commitment, we may have something."

Robert Reinbolt, the mayor's chief of staff, said they haven't yet decided if the contract would be sent to council for a vote.

Mr. Reinbolt has previously said the administration could impose the contract with Toledo City Council's approval even with the union's rejection.

The latest agreement was rejected on Jan. 8 by a 428-227 vote. It was the second time in less than a month the union turned down a contract offer from the city. The second offer included a mandatory five-day furlough in 2009, which would be in addition to at least a five-day layoff without pay for all nonessential city workers ordered by Mayor Finkbeiner.

The agreement would have frozen salaries for two years and increased pay 2 percent in the third year. The city's proposal asked Local 7 members to pay a monthly medical co-payment of $25 for single members, $40 for a single plus one person, and $55 for a family. The contract offer also required new employees to start at 85 percent of the current pay rate with health benefits in accordance with tiered monthly premium co-pays for new employees.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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