Unions dispute mayor's claim - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Unions dispute mayor's claim

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Another indication that the mayor's re-election campaign will not get much support from the unions.   And this time, the trouble stems from something the mayor said on 13-abc.

Mayor Mike Bell (I) appeared on the Roundtable program with Jeff Smith, Sunday morning, and he implied the unions turned their backs on the city in a time of budget trouble. 

Here's what mayor Bell said:

"I went to the union presidents and said, hey we need your help.  We can do something together and maybe get your money back later, but right now, we're in bad shape.  And they looked at me and they said, 'mayor, that's your problem.'"

That comment caught the ear of firefighters Local 92.  Vice President Dan Desmond bristled at the suggestion his union refused to help the city get control of its budget.   Desmond told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann, "What he said  is not true.  We didn't look at him and say it's your problem.  We worked together; we have a document to prove that."

The union produced to 13abc a Memorandum of Understanding showing members agreed to make $3.2 million in concessions-- mid contract in 20-10-- to help balance the budget.

Mayor Bell's office says it took a threat of 125 firefighters layoffs to get that deal, though.

And AFSCME Local 7. says the mayor bullied them by imposing concessions briefly through exigent circumstances instead of negotiating a fair deal.
 
Steve Kowalik, a staff representative with AFSCME Ohio Council 8 told 13abc "Our relationship and our past experience with the city is that the mayor doesn't want to find that middle ground.  He just wants his position."
 
Why is this important?  After all  labor and management are always at odds and the negotiation process always seems to be messy.  But the firefighters union in particular believes this reveals something about the mayor.

Dan Desmond charges, "If someone is going to be disingenuous about one thing are they going to be disingenuous about another?  I think it goes to character."

Steve Kowalik insists the mayor is scapegoating unions during his re-election campaign, saying
"There's a mission there to do away with unions and the right to collectively bargain."

You get the sense of the feeling between the mayor and the unions.  Mayor Bell says the union refused to help; the unions insist the mayor refuses to bargain fairly.

But it is re-election season and it appears to be another point of contention between the mayor and city unions.

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