August 30, 2014

Elyria
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Avon Lake reaches contract deal with police, fire unions

AVON LAKE — City Council accepted three motions Monday night for new collective bargaining agreements with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 25 and Avon Lake Firefighters Local 1361.

According to Mayor Greg Zilka, the agreements are for three years and take effect today. The three agreements include 2 percent raises each year and also require the members of the respective unions to assume a greater payment of health care costs, Zilka said.

“We’re pleased the three contracts involve a pay increase of 2 percent for three years,” Zilka said. “In addition to that, there is assumption of a greater portion of health insurance by the employees.”

Zilka said employees paid around $48 per paycheck for a family plan and under the new contract they will pay 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance.

The firefighters’ agreement also includes reorganization plans, including the creation of an assistant chief and captains, while reducing the number of lieutenants.

“It’s virtually a revenue-neutral restructuring,” Zilka said. “There’s a small increase we will realize, but this will give the chief additional support in terms of administrative assistance to run the department more effectively.”

City Council accepted the motions Monday night after entering into executive session.

“We are very pleased we had constructive negotiations with each of the bargaining units,” Zilka said. “The city employees were very responsible and cognizant of the financial situation the city is facing. We feel this is a workable and fair contract for not only the employees but also the residents of Avon Lake.”

Ward 2 Council member Larry Meiners said it is never fun negotiating with an employee on what their worth is, but he commended the city and collective bargaining units.

“I’ve never seen an agreement like this where everybody gets what they want,” Meiners said. “There’s always something else that someone didn’t get that they wanted, but that’s what negotiations are for. It’s a give and take, and I think this was a fair settlement.”

Zilka said there is also a tentative agreement with the steelworkers union that represents other city employees.

“That contract reflects much of what we see in these contracts,” Zilka said.

Contact Jon Wysochanski at 329-7123 or jwysochanski@chroniclet.com.