|Conciliator sides with Perrysburg firefighters on wage negotiations|
|Written by By WILL MALONE Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Friday, 11 September 2009 10:24|
PERRYSBURG - A conciliator has thrown support behind city firefighters' request for a 6.25-percent wage increase next year.
Conciliator Colman Lalka recommended on Sept. 3 that the city approve the increase for next year as well as a wage reopener in 2011. There would be no raise this year. The city had argued for a 2.75-percent increase this year retroactive to March and then again next year with a provision for reopening wage negotiations the following year.
Based on information submitted during arbitration, the conciliator found it financially feasible for the city to pay the wage increases requested by the International Association of Firefighters Local 3331 and the department of approximately 20 people.
"Through what appears to the Conciliator as brilliant fiscal management, the City of Perrysburg has not suffered the general fund/budget debilitating effects of the current economic downturn as have other communities," Lalka wrote in his report.
The city had contended that its finances were nonetheless impacted to some degree, with projected 2010 income taxes remaining at the 2007 level. An increase in the taxes for 2008 was attributed to an anomalous quarter that year and the trend is not expected by the city to repeat.
The union also argued that the communities used by the city as comparables experienced worse financial conditions than Perrysburg.
The union further contended that firefighters and members of the police department should be treated comparably. The city conceded this point to the conciliator but added this is not always the case and indeed has not been until this point.
The conciliator noted that "other than the broad statement that Police and Firefighters perform different functions and should be treated differently, no other rationale was provided for the disparity in wage increases between Police and Firefighters."
The city had previously denied a fact-finder's report on wages for firefighters, which recommended a 3.25-percent increase this year and a 3-percent increase in 2010. Those rates were approved for the police bargaining units earlier this year.
The union's final settlement offer results in a total wage increase of $69,436, while the fact-finder recommendation denied would have resulted in an increase of $70,519. The city's offer would have cost $61,944.
On the points made by the union, as well as the provision for reopening wage negotiations in 2011 to accommodate potential economic downturn, the union's offer was deemed "the more reasonable of the two."
Lalka stated that the city's offer "would result in an unjustified wage distortion between Police and Firefighters, not only over the life of their current Collective Bargaining Agreements, but into the future as wage increases are granted on a percentage basis."
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