City rejects public service contract proposal

By Scott Halasz

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XENIA — Xenia City County Thursday rejected a third-party recommendation for terms of a new contract between the city and its public service department workers.

Unable to agree, the sides could be running out of options.

They have been negotiating since November and could not reach an agreement with wages being the main point of contention. The workers asked for a 6.75 percent increase spread out over three years, while during negotiations the city arrived at a final offer of 6 percent. In a report submitted by the independent fact-finder, an increase of 6.5 percent over three years was recommended.

It was accepted by the union, but after a pre-meeting executive session, city council voted 5-1 to reject it with Dale Louderback opting to accept the fact-finder. Councilman Edgar Wallace was absent from Thursday’s meeting.

“We didn’t ask for anything unreasonable,” said AFSCME, Ohio Counsel 8 staff representative P. Scott Thomasson. “I would hope that council would have accepted it.”

He said the city’s safety crews received a 6.75 percent increase during their last set of negotiations and the 38 public service workers deserve the same consideration.

“Police and fire can not get to (citizens) if our guys don’t have the streets operable,” Thomasson said.

Mayor Marsha Bayless and and Councilwoman Jeanne Mills both stressed that their rejection of the fact-finder had nothing to do with performance, but rather the financial security of the city. Louderback felt the fact-finder’s offer was adequate.

“We were just so close, in my opinion,” he said.

City Manager Brent Merriman said the city will need to consult with the union to determine the next step. If the sides declare an impasse, the city can implement a contract with the last offer. The union can then choose to accept it or strike.

Merriman couldn’t comment on any specifics of the negotiations, but he did say that the annual increases are compounded, meaning the second and third year raises are based on the prior year, not the wage of the original contract year.

Currently, the public service employees are working under terms of the expired contract.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.