By jeanne starmack
City council approved two union contracts ahead of the vote on Senate Bill 5 in next week’s election.
Council approved contracts at its Oct. 26 meeting for the International Association of Firefighters, Local 1910, which includes eight firefighters, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 759, Ohio Council 8, which includes 17 sewage treatment plant workers and a clerk. The old contracts expired Oct. 31.
The firefighters ratified their contract Oct. 24, and AFSCME members ratified theirs Oct. 18, said Mayor Terry Stocker.
The 3-year contracts include no raises.
Stocker said the unions ratified their contracts quickly because of the possibility Senate Bill 5 will pass in the Nov. 8 election. The bill curtails some collective-bargaining rights and would allow cities to require up to 15 percent of a health-care benefits contribution by employees. The Struthers contracts call for a 7 percent contribution per employee.
“If SB 5 passes, their collective-bargaining agreements are in place for three years,” he said.
Stocker said the police unions for patrol and ranking officers were not ready to push a contract through ahead of SB 5. Their contracts expire July 31, 2012.
For firefighters, wages are based on a step increase from entry level to three years and beyond: entry, $35,175; after one year, $37,347; after two years, $39.518; and after three years, $41,690.
Under the AFSCME contract, the storm-water clerk makes $27,300; chemists make $41,336; industrial monitoring technicians, $40,389; utility assistant maintenance man, entry level, $36,894, after one year, $37,961; maintenance man, $38,959; lead maintenance man, $41,009; plant operator, $39,941; and lead operator, $40,613.
Health-care benefits are broken into four categories. For single coverage, the cost is $451 a month; for employee/spouse, coverage is $854; for employee/child, $656; for family, $1,199. The employees pay 7 percent of the cost and the city pays the rest.