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Published: Thursday, 1/22/2009

Largest city of Toledo union narrowly approves contract

City union workers depart AFSCME Local 7 hall on Reynolds Road after Thursday's vote on a new contract. City union workers depart AFSCME Local 7 hall on Reynolds Road after Thursday's vote on a new contract.

By a mere 10-vote margin, workers in the largest city of Toledo union voted Thursday to accept a new three-year contract that freezes salaries for the first two years while raising co-pay costs for health care, among other concessions.

Members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 7 representing about 800 workers voted 332-322 for the offer.

Unlike the last offer rejected Jan. 8, this contract does not put new employees on a lower pay scale 85 percent of the current rate with tiered medical benefits.

It also allows employees to decide when they will take a mandatory, unpaid five-day furlough in 2009, as ordered by Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

The city and AFSCME Local 7 had been locked in quarrelsome negotiations since the union s contract expired June 30.

Union members rejected the first contract offer Dec. 17, and said the second offer in January, rejected 428-227, was even worse for workers.

The new contract, which is retroactive to July 1, gives 2 percent raises in the third year after two years of frozen wages.

For the first time, union members will start paying a monthly medical co-payment of $25 for single members, $40 for a single plus one person, and $55 for a family.

The co-pay for an emergency room visit will raise to $100 from $65.

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