City workers issue strike notice

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2004

The union representing 51 Ironton city workers have issued a notice of intent to strike.

The AFSCME local 771 issued the notice late Tuesday afternoon of its intent to walk off the job at 6 a.m. May 17 unless issues between the union and the city are resolved.

At issue is the layoff of 10 municipal employees, which includes eight AFSCME workers, and the decision not to fill one other position. The workers were laid off Saturday.

Email newsletter signup

The AFSCME union includes employees in the city's street, sanitation, flood, water, sewer, police dispatchers, income tax, water collection office and the meter maid.

"We don't want to strike, we hope we can get this resolved," local 771 President Joe Johnson said.

"They have the money to pay us, they just don't want to. They had a $262,000 carryover this year."

He said that since the workers were laid off, city services have suffered, and in turn, city residents will eventually suffer as well.

"There are garbage routes that aren't being picked up," Johnson said. "There are Monday routes that have not been picked up and it's Wednesday."

Eight union members were among those who received pink slips - three employees in the sanitation department, three in the street department, a water department clerk and either the meter maid or a custodian once those two positions are combined. In addition, two non-union administrative employees were also laid off - the assistant code enforcement officer and the facilities manager. The vacant position of economic development director was not filled.

One union position may be saved by filling a vacant position in the dispatching department.

Mayor John Elam said that since he received the notice late Tuesday, he did not have a chance until this morning to thoroughly review the strike notice.

"Hopefully, we will get this resolved," Elam said. "I am very hopeful. We continue to have good discussions on this."

Elam said even with the recent layoffs, he wants city residents to understand that more belt tightening, or other adjustments will probably be necessary to balance the city budget.

"Even with those 11 positions and no wage increase, we are still outspending revenues by a half a million dollars," Elam said. "I think that's phenomenal. We are looking at other ways to generate income, such as the reciprocity agreement, municipal fees or adjusting the payroll tax."

City leaders have discussed instituting a temporary $10 per household municipal fee for all city residents. It would generate between $500,000 and $600,000 each year. Another idea is an increase in the city's 1-percent income tax.

Johnson said he hopes the city will pass the $10 user fee and get the workers back on the job.