City of Toledo employees in domestic partnerships could have a second chance next week to get the same health-care benefits extended to legally married couples working for the city.
Toledo City Council this afternoon reviewed legislation for the domestic partners of city employees — one week after a tumultuous council debate and 8-4 vote to amend Mayor Mike Bell’s original benefits proposal by including a clause allowing Toledo’s main firefighters’ union to reopen negotiations on its health-care contract with the city. The mayor the next day promptly vetoed that amended legislation.
The mayor put it back before council without the firefighters clause.
During council’s agenda review meeting Tuesday, which is held in advance of next week’s regular council meeting, Councilman D. Michael Collins argued that it is discriminatory against firefighters who would have qualified. Local 92 is the only city union that manages its own health-care fund. He said extending health benefits to more people could put a strain on the union’s finances.
“I am going to vote against it because it its discrimination and dishonestly in collective bargaining,” Mr. Collins said. “They had the responsibility to tell the firefighters [during negotiations in March] this is what they were going to do.”
Mr. Collins said the rank and file firefighters union now has a dilemma: either pay to extend that insurance benefit for its members without additional help from the city or go without it while other city employees will get it.
Ellen Grachek, human resources director for the city, said the city has no knowledge of the financial health or any details of the Local 92’s health plan and added that approving the legislation does not require that bargaining unit to extend those benefits to its members.
“If we open the contract on this issue, we are going to be subject to open it on a number of other issues,” Ms. Grachek told council.