• 50°

City to vote on AFSCME contract

City leaders and members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 771 have reached a tentative agreement on a new one-year contract, but the agreement is what Mayor Rich Blankenship described as an unfortunate adherence to the status quo. City council will vote on the agreement Thursday evening.

To comply with the city’s required seven-and-a-half percent budget cut in each department, the union will continue to do without the six public works employees who were laid off earlier this year.

Blankenship said he is disappointed the public works union chose this route to balance its budget.

“My personal opinion is, we don’t have enough people working in AFSCME to get done what we need to get done,” Blankenship said. “It’s a daily struggle to juggle people from department to department. This will result in delays on road repairs and cutting grass.”

Attempts to reach Local 771 President Brett Layne were not successful.

The city had proposed all city union employees begin paying a portion of their retirement pickup, which is what is now required of non-union employees.

Thus far two of the city’s three unions have rejected the idea in favor of layoffs. The firefighters union approved a new contract two weeks ago that reaches its seven-and-a-half percent mandate through reductions in its food and uniform funds.

These changes allowed the fire department to bring back firefighters who had been laid off. A new agreement with the police department has yet to be reached. The city and Fraternal Order of Police will meet later this week to continue negotiations.

Also on the agenda for Thursday’s council meeting: first reading of an ordinance to award a contract for solid waste dumping a resolution to apply for state assistance in demolishing foreclosed houses, and a resolution to apply for Community Development Block Grant funding.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. in council chambers on the third floor of the Ironton City Center.