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Published: Tuesday, 1/11/2011

Lucas County union forgoes raise in pay for 3rd year in a row

Members of one Lucas County government union will go without pay raises in 2011, their third year in a row at the same pay rate.

The flatlined salaries were part of a one-year contract extension with AFSCME Local 544-03, Technical and Service Chapter, that County Commissioners approved Monday in a 3-0 vote.

The original three-year contract began in 2008 with 2-percent salary increases for members of the union, which number about 150. Members received no salary increases in 2009 and 2010 after the contract's wage negotiations were reopened.

Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak praised the new extension agreement.

"This talks a lot about the cooperation of the labor unions to help government downsize and live within our means," said Ms. Wozniak, one of three Democrats on the board. "Zero-percent wage increases continue to be what's necessary to balance the budget."

Sally Powless, regional director for AFSCME Council 8, said the union understands that the county lacks the resources to give raises this year.

"We're trying to work with the commissioners so that we can save as many jobs as possible," Ms. Powless said.

The bargaining unit includes employees in the county's sanitary-engineer, waste-water treatment, building-regulations, dog-warden, facilities, support-services, and solid-waste departments.

In other matters on Monday, commissioners voted 3-0 to keep Commissioner Pete Gerken as president of the board for a third one-year term.

Ms. Wozniak nominated him for the position.

"I think Commissioner Gerken has done a tremendous job. He certainly recognizes the challenges we face [as a county]," she said.

Mr. Gerken told colleagues Ms. Wozniak and board newcomer Carol Contrada he was honored to serve again as president and looks forward to a year of civility, good discourse, and mutual respect.

Contact JC Reindel at: jreindl@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.

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