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City continues layoffs

 

Ironton City Council Chairman Mike Lutz has called a finance committee special meeting for 6 p.m. Monday. The discussion will focus on union negotiations and the 15 employees who have been laid off in the last three weeks.

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship confirmed Friday morning that six employees from public works — the street department, sanitation, wastewater, income tax and water distribution — were given layoff notices Thursday that became effective Friday.

Because employees who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union have what is known as bumping rights the lowest in seniority within the entire union will be laid off, meaning some employees who were once members of one department can take the job of someone lower in seniority even if that person is in another department. Benefits specialist Katrina Keith said the six people who were laid off are Mark Dickess and Chris Bodmer, from the sanitation department, Missy Shreck from water administration, Sean Ainsworth, water distribution, Cheryl White, income tax, and Mark Weber, wastewater.

Also effective Friday but announced last week, three dispatchers at the city police department put in a final day’s work Thursday.

This comes a week after three firefighters and three police officers were laid off (one person in each of those departments took a voluntary layoff). The total number of city employees laid off is now 15.

“It is not a good feeling at all to lay someone off,” Blankenship said. “But council has given me a budget and I have to work within it.”

Blankenship said he is very hopeful that something can be done to bring the laid-off employees back.

“Seven-and-a-half percent is the number council says we have to come up with, to cut from each department’s budget,” Blankenship said.

While non-union employees agreed to begin paying 7.5 percent of their retirement pickup, Blankenship said the cuts can come from other areas within each department’s budget.

“We’re still trying to come to that number and I think everyone is working very hard to do that,” the mayor said.

Blankenship said he hoped city residents will understand that city services will be affected by these layoffs and that everyone should be patient, given the situation.

Blankenship said he met with the AFSCME and firefighters unions Thursday and hopes to schedule more meeting in the future with those two unions as well as the police union.

A message was given to AFSCME Local 771 President Brett Layne. He did not return the call to The Tribune as of press time.