COLUMBUS — A state panel Thursday unanimously agreed that the city of Toledo did not commit an unfair labor practice when it implemented its own contract proposal for trash and sewer workers after rejecting the recommendations of a fact-finder.
The three-member State Employment Relations Board agreed with the March findings of its administrative law judge when it dismissed a complaint filed by Teamsters Local 20. The board’s executive director, Christine A. Dietsch, said a written opinion will be released Friday.
At issue was a new three-year contract with the union for 140 city workers that went before a third-party fact-finder. The city contended it could not afford the fact-finder’s report, which recommended either a 2 percent pay raise in the second year of the pact or a 3 percent hike in the third.
The fact-finder had also rejected the city’s request that the workers pay the entire share of their pension contributions, 10 percent of their wages. The city had been paying 8.5 percentage points of that 10 percent.
It took two votes, but on the second vote, city council had the super-majority necessary to reject the fact-finder’s recommendations. The union, however, countered that the city didn’t have the luxury of a second vote after the first failed to reach the super-majority threshold.
The city then implemented the terms of its own final best offer, which provided for 1 percent raises each year and dropped the city pension pickup that it had been paying under the prior pact.
During the administrative hearing, Mayor Mike Bell told the judge that the city couldn’t afford the terms of the fact-finder’s report, which he refused to sign. The city had just worked to close a $48 million budget deficit by raising the trash fee, forcing mid-contract concessions with several unions, imposed spending cuts, and took money out of its capital improvement fund.