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Union says ‘no’ to wage freeze

A local union’s vote to not accept a proposed wage freeze has forced Ironton officials to consider a labor reduction.

Saturday, February 03, 2001

A local union’s vote to not accept a proposed wage freeze has forced Ironton officials to consider a labor reduction.

Last Tuesday, Ironton City Council’s Finance Committee asked AFSCME Local 771 union representatives to consider voting on a 2-percent wage freeze as a temporary measure to ensure the city doesn’t fall short on funds.

In a memo sent to Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary Friday, union president and city employee Todd Davis said the union voted last Thursday (Feb. 1) on the proposed 2-percent wage freeze.

"They told me they voted ‘no’ during the meeting," Cleary said. "The memo said the union would not take a wage freeze. I am preparing a letter to send to AFSCME, giving them a 30-day notice of labor reduction throughout the group."

The reduction is expected to be administered through "reduced hours worked per day," he said.

"It will affect all the AFSCME union members," Cleary said.

Davis said the union voted no for reasons of disbelief in management.

"We voted (Thursday) to not give up the 2 percent, reason being management would not give up 2 percent," he said. "We had 31 members present that voted. It was a unanimous vote."

But, he later said a vote was not taken during last Thursday’s meeting, but during the Jan. 25 meeting.

"The vote was taken at the previous meeting and it was followed up at our last meeting to see if there were any objections or questions," he said. "There were only a few questions, but no objections."

On the contrary, the union’s secretary, Jeannine Reed said a vote was not taken during the Jan. 25 meeting.

"I was there for the entire meeting and my minutes reflect that we voted that we would wait for more information from the city as to whether they had questioned the police, fire and non-union personnel about giving up the 2 percent," Ms. Reed said. "They wanted to go to the finance committee to get more information before we voted on the wage freeze."

Cleary said he interpreted the Jan. 25 meeting to be a positive step for the union.

"I met with them last week personally," he said. "They called a special meeting and I tried to explain all the issues to them. I do not want to lay off anyone else, period."

He said he requested union members to consider the proposed 2-percent wage freeze, which was to be effective Feb. 1, as a temporary measure.

"When I left the meeting, I felt they were in agreement," he said. "I assured them management would not get a raise this year, nor would the police and fire unions. We were not taking anything away, all we were asking was to not take the 2-percent raise for this year."