HUBBARD Council OKs wage increase

Union members and their supporters filled council chambers.
HUBBARD -- By its silence, city council approved a 101/2-percent wage increase Tuesday night for nonuniformed city employees.
"You gutless councilmen," shouted a union member, who didn't realize that by not taking a vote, lawmakers ratified the pact.
Council accepted fact finder Marc A. Winters' report on the contract with members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1256.
The nearly 30 members of Local 1256 get a 31/2 percent increase this year and 31/2 percent in 2004 and 2005.
Council also accepted a stipulation that the workers in the light, street, water and sewer departments will pay no additional cost of their health-care benefits.
Union members and their supporters filled council chambers as council went into a 45-minute executive session to discuss the fact finder's report.
When council emerged and adjourned without taking a vote, some in the audience thought lawmakers rejected the report and shouted that the members didn't have the courage to vote.
Prepared to strike
If council would have rejected the fact finder's findings, Local 1256 president Joseph Sheridan said he would have submitted a 10-day notice of intent to strike today with the State Employees Relations Board.
But not voting, individual council members did not have to express their opinions in public.
Sheridan said he was surprised by the no-vote approval.
"I thought at least we would get a vote," Sheridan said. "It's acceptable."
The city continues to bargain with members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 132. It doesn't negotiate with members of the Hubbard Volunteer Fire Department.
"Obviously, council spoke," Richard Keenan, D-4th, said after the meeting.
Raymond Farcas, D-at-large, said he and some other council members were not happy with the fact finder's report.
"Once the fact finder made a decision, that compromised our position," Farcas said.
"We figured we'd cut our losses for now," he said, noting that getting employees to share additionally in health-care benefits was the key issue.
Both members of Local 1256 and the FOP had offered to accept 3-percent wage increases in each of three years with no other changes in their contracts. They were rejected by council.

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