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Published: Monday, 5/17/2010

Toledo police union agreement calls for city to resume paying pension pickups

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo police patrolmen began voting Monday on a concessionary agreement with the Bell administration to replace the much deeper cuts that City Council forced upon the union after declaring "exigent circumstances."

The new deal - which was reached between the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association and the city Friday during a mediation session with the State Employment Relations Board - requires the city to continue paying all of the pensions premiums for the patrolmen beginning later this month, according to a person close to the negotiations.

The officers have been paying the full 10 percent employee share of their pension contribution since Toledo City Council's exigent circumstances declaration on March 30.

They will not get any of that pension premium money paid so far this year back under the deal.

The patrol officers will also defer payment of any overtime between June 1 and March, 2011 - when it will be paid out with a 3.5 percent increase.

Officers who are eligible to retire within 36 months will not have to defer their overtime. Doing so would affect their pensions.

The 3.5 percent pay starting Jan. 1, 2011 is contained within the union's current three-year contract. It will be applied to the overtime worked this year when it is paid out next year, under the deal.

There will also be no layoffs of any patrolmen before April 1, 2011.

The Bell administration previously said it needed $2.6 million in savings from the patrolmen's union. It was unclear Monday how much his deal would save.

When City Council invoked exigent circumstances on March 30 after police union membership rejected a negotiated package of concessions, the city began forcing union members to pay the 10 percent employees' share of their pension contribution for nine months and contribute to their medical-insurance costs based on a sliding salary scale.

The forced concessions were part of Mayor Mike Bell's plan to address a $48 million general fund deficit. He asked council to force the givebacks when talks stalled with all the unions except for Firefighters Local 92 and refuse workers of Teamsters Local 20.

Local 92 members agreed to a midcontract memorandum of understanding before March 30, and the Teamsters have been in talks on a new contract since before the last one expired Dec. 31.

It was unclear Monday if the new deal restores the officers' medical-insurance costs for TPPA members.

Jen Sorgenfrei, a spokesman for the city, on Friday said the pact was reached during a meeting that was attended by a handful of city leaders.

Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, said the agreement that was put to a vote of the union's members Monday would cost each member about $1,100 in all.

As security, the city agreed there would be no layoffs of police officers until at least April, 2011.

He said under the agreement the members would pay their own 10 percent share of the pension and a contribution to health care costs for two more two-week pay periods, on top of the two pay periods that they have already paid.

The total savings of the pension and health care givebacks to the city is about $520,000, which is $10,000 less than the cost of the concessions the administration had previously requested.

The union would also agree to defer overtime worked between June and March, 2011, after which it will be paid with a 3.5-percent pay raise that takes effect in January. Mr. Wagner said that will save the city money because the deferred overtime will be exempt from being included in the city's pension payment calculations.

"It saves the city quite a bit of money," he said.

Mr. Wagner said as of 5 p.m. about 400 of the union's membership of 459 had voted, with voting to continue until 7:30 p.m.

SERB recently found probable cause that both the city of Toledo and its police union may have engaged in collective bargaining violations as part of their continuing standoff over forced contract concessions.

At that time, SERB authorized the Ohio Attorney General's Office to ask Lucas County Common Pleas Court on its behalf for an injunction to halt the city's actions against the TPPA.

Each side has accused the other of engaging in unfair labor practices. The police union has accused the city of unilaterally changing the terms of an existing contract and refusing to bargain in good faith.

The city, in turn, accused the union of improperly engaging in a "blue flu" by having an unusually large number of its members call off "sick" on April 5 and 6 in apparent protest of the city's action to impose concessions in midcontract.



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