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EAST PALESTINE With head count under 5,000, city may dump union pacts



Published: Wed, January 16, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



One councilwoman thinks council will continue to recognize unions.

By NANCY TULLIS

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

EAST PALESTINE -- Allowing the U.S. Census 2000 figure to stand at 4,917 means city council may opt not to recognize its employee unions.

City Law Director Bradley Allison said Ohio municipalities with population of less than 5,000 are not required by law to recognize unions once the current contracts expire.

Finance Director Connie Robinson said three full-time dispatchers and nine full-time police officers are represented by the Fraternal Order of Police. Teamsters represent 15 full- and part-time employees, including water, sewer and street department employees and some clerical workers. Both contracts expire Dec. 31, she said.

Suggestions: Councilwoman Becky Burns has said she thinks money the city might have used to challenge the census could be better spent elsewhere.

She said council should concentrate on improving 2010 census figures by working to attract new families to the city.

Burns also said she thinks the current council will continue to recognize the employees' union representation.

She said City Manager Gary Clark, formerly the city's police chief, has experience working with unions and has a good working relationship with city employees.

Council decided Monday not to challenge the U.S. Census 2000 figure that reported East Palestine's population at 4,917.

Census figures: The state certified a recount in April 2001 by city officials and volunteers that set the city population at 5,058. Federal officials, however, said the U.S. Census figures won't change without a challenge.

Allison said council chose not to challenge the figures because the procedure is so complex it required hiring a consulting firm to handle it.

He said the procedure is time consuming and would have been costly.

He said the consultants council was considering hiring were not willing to give a firm price for the work, which "scared everyone quite a bit."




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