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City union asks judge to force pay talks

The union that represents about 200 city of Toledo administrative and supervisory employees is asking a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge to force the Bell administration into arbitration for a wage reopener.

Alan Cox, president of AFSCME Local 2058, said the two sides could not agree on a pay increase during the wage-reopener talks for the contract that expired on May 31, 2012.

“We had worked with the administration last year after police and fire got their 3.5 percent raise, when we had only got 2 percent,” Mr. Cox said. “We tried to talk to the administration and see if they would be receptive to giving us that same additional 1.5 percent under the wage reopener, and because we were not able to work out an arrangement, we told them we would be arbitrating.”

He said the Bell administration refused to honor its obligation to participate in the arbitration.

Jen Sorgenfrei, spokesman for Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, declined to comment in detail.

The union’s court motion, filed Wednesday, said the city sent it a letter Sept. 21 indicating that it would not proceed to arbitration.

The union and city negotiated a successor contract that runs from June 1, 2012, to May 31, 2015.

“We are willing to live with the outcome of the arbitration,” Mr. Cox said.

“With the fact the economy is continuing to improve, and our union is only a small percentage of the general fund plus our concessions in the past were more generous proportionally than police and fire. Our argument is, how can you keep treating us so much less worthy than those who are keeping us in a deficit situation?”

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