Union leaders oppose Bell's cutback request

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell is receiving major opposition Thursday as the leaders of four unions representing city workers have rejected his request for concessions.

The City of Toledo is facing a $48 million general fund deficit, which Bell hopes to dscrease with concessions or cutbacks from unions representing city of Toledo employees, such as police patrolmen and firefighters. In a letter sent Feb. 12, Bell gave union leaders until Thursday to respond to his requests, which include employees having to pay up to 20% of their healthcare costs.

The mayor's office released responses from four union leaders on Thursday, all of which opposed Bell's proposed concessions.

Union leaders expressed their concern that many city workers have already given enough in cutbacks. "The average officer has 'cooperated' by accepting a two year wage freeze, coupled with a seven percent loss in the family budget by virtue of the pension roll back, plus the substantial out of pocket loss associated with health are co-sharing. The TPPA made this sacrifice for the next three years even though it was the only City department to have suffered layoffs," wrote Toledo Police Patrolmen's Association President Dan Wagner.

Toledo firefighters have also already handed back their share to the city, according to Local 92's Wayne Hartford. "Local 92 has made unprecedented concessions that will affect firefighter compensation for years to come."

Chuck Collinson, of Teamsters Local 20, expressed the fact that his union is currently in the middle of talks and collective bargaining sessions. He wrote of his side's willingness to work with the city but reiterated its current state, "I am sure that you understand that it is difficult to entertain concessions, or any bargaining proposal in the absence of specific proposals for changes and/or modifications to any successor Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Union and the City."

AFSCME Local 2058 President Alan Cox told Bell in an e-mail on Monday that his union workers would be willing to negotiate further cutbacks once all other city unions drawing from the general fund had agreed to concessions. "Local 2058 makes up less than two tenths of one percent of the pension savings as indicated in the reports provided to us. It is clear that all other General Fund employees must be the ones to set the standards at this time."