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AFSCME contract held up one week

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One Government Center aerial, Blade building, downtown Toledo, Monday, May 4, 2015.

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A tentative agreement with a union representing 734 Toledo city workers would award them raises totaling 5 percent over three years, according to legislation unveiled Tuesday.

Toledo Council met in special session and was expected to vote on the agreement Tuesday, but after an hour-long closed-door meeting decided to delay action until council’s regular meeting Nov. 28.

The proposed contract is with American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 7, whose members include city utility workers and truck and heavy equipment operators. Covered members are paid an average wage of $19.56 per hour.

The proposed contract calls for raises of 1 percent in January, 2018, 1.5 percent in January, 2019, and 2.5 percent in January, 2020. It raises the employee co-pay for emergency room visits from $100 to $200.

The union endorsed and strongly supported Ms. Hicks-Hudson in the Nov. 7 election, which she lost to Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz. Her term ends Jan. 2.

Mayor Hicks-Hudson said Tuesday there was no link between the contract settlement and the union’s support of her candidacy.

Several council members interviewed after Tuesday’s meeting said they were not aware of opposition, and said the unexpected delay was in response to members’ requests for information.

Council members Rob Ludeman and Lindsay Webb said they expect to vote for it. Mr. Ludeman called it “very reasonable.”

Councilman Kurt Young said some members had questions about the noneconomic content of the agreement.

“It seemed like it was on pretty solid ground,” Mr. Young said.

Also Tuesday, council discussed a new proposal from Mayor Hicks-Hudson to spend $400,000 to convert city street lights to LED technology.

The city recently installed 200 LED fixtures in the Old South End as part of the 2017 SMART City Pilot Program. 

Under the legislation, the administration asked for authorization to contract with Palmer Energy and Luna Energy Partners to determine the best way forward to convert city street lights to LED technology.

In addition, Palmer Energy and Luna Energy Partners would be asked to prepare a cost-benefit analysis for additional “smart technologies” associated with lighting upgrades. These upgrades can include sending ‘maintenance required’ signals to the repair team and making lights dimmable as required, mayor said.

She said studies have shown that LED lighting helps to improve pedestrian and driver safety.

“Bringing LED lights to the city will help it become a smart city and innovative city. By embracing new technology, the citizens of Toledo will improve lighting levels and safety in our neighborhoods,” the mayor said.

Councilman Webb said the legislation will receive a public hearing in December before it is voted on. She and Councilman Sandy Spang said they wanted assurances that the technology being purchased will have more uses than just facilitating brighter lighting.

“Smart systems can combine a lot of technology on a single pole. We need a comprehensive approach,” Ms. Spang said.

Douglas Stephens, administrator for engineering services, said there would be a comprehensive approach.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com419-724-6058, or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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