Employees represented by the city of Toledo’s largest union should not get a pay raise for the next two years and contribute more toward their pension and health-care costs, an independent fact finder has ruled.
A report issued Wednesday by conciliator Daniel Zeiser said the approximately 800 workers represented by Local 7 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees should have their wages frozen for 2012 and 2013, and increase their contributions toward health care over the same period from the current 5 percent to as much as 15 percent, depending on their income. The report also recommends the city reduce its contributions to the employees’ pensions from 10 percent to 3 percent over the next two years. Most of the employees are service workers.
The report follows a hearing with the fact finder earlier this month in which city and union representatives put forward their positions on concessions sought by the Bell administration.
The city has been seeking to cut labor expenses to reduce expenditures and balance the budget at a time of severely stretched revenue. AFSCME had agreed to offer some concessions such as forgoing a pay increase until 2013 and increasing monthly health-care premiums by $15, and offered a plan on the pensions similar to the one recommended by the fact finder.
However, the union had also sought a 1 percent wage increase for 2013 and a 3 percent increase for 2014, something the Bell administration argued against.
Under the fact finder’s recommendations, both sides would be able to negotiate the pay increase issue again in 2014 if certain conditions are met.
Administration officials declined to comment on the report Thursday, citing attorney-client privilege. Local 7 President Don Czerniak did not return calls. Both sides have seven days to accept or reject the findings before they automatically go into effect, an official said.
City councilman D. Michael Collins said from what he’s seen of the fact finder’s report, Mayor Bell’s administration does not need the help of Gov. John Kasich’s new law, still referred to as Senate Bill 5, restricting the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
“I have not had the opportunity to completely review [the report] but in my cursory review I think it would be very challenging for the administration to defend their position that SB 5 is necessary,” the councilman said.
Councilman Joe McNamara said the report shows the fact finder recognized the city’s difficult financial position.
“We’re still likely to end the year with between $14 [million] and $17 million dollars less in income tax revenue than we did in 2007,” Mr. McNamara stressed. “Clearly the fact finder understood that we could not continue to provide the same compensation packages and maintain other city services like paving roads.”
Other council members declined comment or did not return calls.
Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett