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Published: Wednesday, 9/29/2010

Council delays decision on imposing pact on Teamsters

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo City Council last night delayed voting on what would have been a controversial move to implement a new contract upon refuse and city water-plant workers two days after those employees overwhelmingly voted down the agreement in a union vote.

Teamsters Local 20 members on Saturday rejected the contract by a 116-12 margin. Union President Bill Lichtenwald said the main sticking point was the lack of a "me-too" clause that would guarantee the Teamsters would receive the same financial package other unions might get.

The Bell administration asked council to impose the contract on the union members. After meeting in private for more than an hour, council lacked enough votes to suspend its rules and then vote on the request with only a first reading.

Councilman Phillip Copeland, a leader of Laborers Local 500, asked for a "slow roll call" on suspending that rule. The procedural move was successful in delaying an ultimate vote on Mayor Mike Bell's request.

Suspending the council rule for a second reading required affirmative nine votes, but it received only seven. Voting against suspending that rule were Mr. Copeland, Michael Ashford, Steven Steel, D. Michael Collins, and Lindsay Webb.

Mayor Bell said the city will have to pay another $50,000 into the union's health care plan if the contract is not implemented before Thursday.

The deal the Teamsters rejected would have put them under the city's health-care plan - something the union has fought. The city has contended its own plan provides comparable service and would save about $600,000 a year for taxpayers.

After the failed vote, Council President Wilma Brown scheduled a meeting for Thursday to vote on the request, which would need a simple majority of seven votes to pass at that time.

The two sides were locked in talks for a new agreement since a majority of Toledo City Council last month rejected a fact-finder's recommendation for a contract with the Teamsters that Mayor Bell said was too expensive. Mr. Copeland said he thinks imposing the contract can be avoided altogether.

"I wanted the union and the administration to sit down and do a little more talking," he said. "If they can get back to the table, I think they can get it settled."

The union's last contract expired Dec. 31. The two sides have now reached impasse twice.

Mr. Lichtenwald said Saturday the union would be willing to meet the city back at the negotiation table, but "it's their move." He could not be reached for comment last night.

Local 20 represents about 180 Toledo refuse and water-plant workers.

Under the contract proposal that the union rejected and Mr. Bell wants to impose, the employees would have had to contribute to the medical-coverage premiums as follows: $25 a month for singles, $40 a month for a single person plus one dependent, and $55 a month for family plans.

The deal also would have granted the union members pay raises in exchange for giving back on the city's contributions to their pension plans. The agreement would have given them a 1 percent pay raise in November, another 1 percent increase in July, and a third 1 percent increase in July, 2012.

The union members at each of those points would increase by 1.5 percent the amount they pay into their pension plans, so by the end of the contract term, the Teamsters would have been paying 6 percent of their pension contribution - also known as the pension pickup - and the city would pay 4 percent of the employee's share. New hires would have had to pay the entire 10 percent of the employee share.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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