NORTH RIDGEVILLE — No sooner had the city and its firefighters reached an agreement on a new contract then talks started with 70 to 80 people employed by the Service Department, French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and City Hall.
City Council approved legislation Monday to extend the employees’ current contract two months from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 to grant more time for negotiations to continue.
“We normally do this … granting an extension a couple of months at a time so everyone working under the old contract isn’t without one,” Mayor David Gillock said.
The current three-year pact for Local 3442 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union expires Dec. 31.
It had included a 75-cent hourly pay hike that was agreed to by both sides under a wages-only re-opener clause put into the package for 2012. That pay increase was approved following re-opened talks on salary in January of this year.
It was the first since a 2 percent increase was approved in 2009 and was designed to offset givebacks the AFSCME chapter agreed to as part of their current contract.
Anthony Oliva, president of the city’s AFSCME chapter, said the union waited to begin talks on a new contract until firefighters and the city came to terms on a two-year contract calling for raises of 4 percent this year and 2 percent in 2014.
That contract also negotiated an increase in firefighters’ monthly insurance costs from 10 to 12.5 percent.
“I have been very consistent in trying to get everybody at 12.5 percent on their insurance,” Gillock said, ading the same increase is being discussed with AFSCME negotiators, whose local also covers some recently added city employees in the Building and Engineering departments, as well as personnel with the Parks and Recreation Department and city senior center.
“We’re just starting, it’s been pretty slow so far,” Oliva said of the few bargaining sessions held so far.
Wages and insurance are front and center of those sessions.
“We’re not trying to go crazy here,” Oliva said. “We understand the (economic) times we’re in.’’
Should terms on a new contract not be reached by the end of February, another extension of the current package could be enacted, Gillock said.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.