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Published: Thursday, 1/6/2011

Toledo violated law by forcing sanitation pact, state decides

The State Employment Relations Board Thursday found probable cause that the city of Toledo violated Ohio's collective bargaining laws by voting twice in August to reject a fact finder's report and then again in September by imposing a new contract upon unionized city refuse and sewer plant workers.

“It's a preliminary finding that there are enough facts for them to believe that the laws have been violated and they will be issuing a complaint and it will go to a hearing,” said John Roca, attorney for Teamsters Local 20, which represents the workers.

“On behalf of Bill Lichtenwald, president of Teamsters Local 20, I can communicate that the Teamsters are very pleased with this finding and it once again shows that the city cannot run roughshod over working people in the city Toledo,” Mr. Roca said.

Toledo City Council voted 8-4 on Sept. 30 to impose a contract on the union, which then filed an unfair labor practice complaint.

Council voted to force the Teamsters to accept a contract several days after most of those unionized workers rejected the pact. The two sides also disagreed over whether council properly rejected a previous contract that stems from a fact finder's report.

The contract puts the union members under the city's health-care plan, which is something its members fought. The city said its own plan provides comparable service and would save about $600,000 a year for taxpayers.

Under the agreement, the workers have to contribute to medical coverage premiums of $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 grants union members raises in exchange for picking up the city's contributions to their pension plans.

The agreement gives them a 1 percent pay raise in November, another 1 percent increase in July, and a third 1 percent increase in July, 2012.

Union members also would increase their portion of the 10 percent “employee's share” of their pension contribution.

The contract addresses incentives that trash workers received. It abolishes solid waste workers' incentives and requires them to complete an eight-hour day, which they have not been required to do. Presently they can leave when their work is done.

The contract enacts a $260 “accident avoidance” incentive to be paid every quarter to each solid waste driver, bulk driver, and recycle driver who does not cause an accident and is not responsible for damaging city property. New hires and transfers do not get the perk.

There is also an incentive to reduce sick time: Each union member will receive $100 annually if Local 20 reduces its overall sick time by 20 percent.

In addition, union members each will receive $1,500 in exchange for dismissing the “Holiday Bonus Comp Time” grievance, which stems from the administration of former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner switching the city to a “leap day” trash schedule to reduce built-in overtime days throughout the year.

By comparison, the fact finder report that the union insists is the binding contract grants a 2 percent raise effective the first pay period of July, 2011, or a 3 percent increase effective Jan. 1, 2012.

It also recommends a boost in the drivers' hourly rate to $21.08 from $18.03 and a lump-sum payment to compensate for the loss of $3.27 an hour in incentives and bonuses that were related to the city's way of collecting trash before automation.

The fact finder refused the city's request for the workers to pay their own full 10 percent share of the pension contribution.

The city also filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the union alleging it engaged for nearly four weeks in “bad-faith negotiations” after City Council rejected the fact finder report that recommended terms city leaders said Toledo could not afford.



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