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Union, city talks productive

December 11, 2012
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - City Council will meet at 5 p.m. today in executive session to review a tentative agreement reached Monday between City Manager Cathy Davison and representatives of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2015.

AFSCME Local 2015 President Brian Young said the hour-long talks "were very productive" and aimed at limiting potential layoffs in his union ranks.

"I still have to meet with the union membership this week. But at this point the city administration has agreed to keep all of the heavy equipment operators on their jobs. The lay-off notices issued last week have been withdrawn and will be reissued after we can agree on a number," Young explained.

"We are hoping to limit the actual layoffs to just one union member. We will help the city achieve their reductions by not filling certain vacant jobs. We are working to adjust our jobs to limit the layoffs. The city is looking to cut five jobs," Young noted.

"People may be changing their jobs a bit but they will still be getting a paycheck and that is good news," added Young.

Davison echoed Young's comments regarding the meeting.

"Both sides came to the table with open minds and open hearts and we were able to come to a consensus on positions to be eliminated. The positions to be eliminated will help us bridge the gap to resolve our projected budget deficit. We are also working together to minimize effects on services we provide our residents. I want to commend the AFSCME leadership for being open to our ideas and for providing suggestions," Davison stated.

The city started the week facing a projected $822,968 budget deficit for this year.

Davison said she also will recommend council ask the state auditor's office to conduct a performance audit.

"That audit would look at our staffing numbers as well as our collaborative plans and what steps we are taking to become more efficient," said Davison.

"We are facing hard decisions that should have been made 20 years ago. It is tough to make recommendations that affect people's lives. But we also have to operate as efficiently as possible," Davison remarked.

Davison said Monday she plans to convene a joint health care committee meeting as soon as possible.

"I will ask Health America to list all benefits city employees receive and as well as a cost comparison to other municipalities. Right now our employees pay $50 a month or $600 a year for health care," noted Davison.

The three city union representatives vetoed health care program changes last month when the three union representatives voted no and the two city representatives voted in favor of changes.

Council will meet at 7:30 p.m. for a sunshine meeting when new legislation officially is introduced for consideration at next week's regular meeting.

The Dec. 18 meeting is the last regular council meeting scheduled for this year.

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