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Council rejects agreements with unions

Ironton City Council Thursday rejected proposed agreements with the police and public works unions, sending all the parties back to the bargaining table.

Both the agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police Local 75 and the agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 771 had been tabled at a special council meeting last week. The goal was to push the unions and the city to reach agreements that would comply with city council’s mandated seven-and-a-half budget cuts in each department without having workers laid off.

Those agreements were brought off the table for a vote Thursday and each rejected by a 5-2 vote. Council members Mike Lutz and Kevin Waldo voted in favor of the agreements; council members Aaron Bollinger, Bob Cleary, Dave Frazer, Philip Heald and Beth Rist voted against them.

“I think laying off workers to meet budget cuts is an unacceptable solution,” Heald said after the meeting. “The workers that are left on the job are working hard but they can’t work hard enough. We want acceptable concessions and contributions to retirement that would allow everyone to keep their job. We can’t ask the residents of Ironton to pay more in municipal fees and get fewer services for their money. Council cares about people getting the services they pay for.”

Rist said she could not go along with the idea of the layoffs in place of other budget cuts, either.

“We need to stand our ground on this,” she said. “I gave on reciprocity and I gave on the municipal fee but I’m with Bob (Cleary) we need to stand our ground on this.”

But Lutz said he didn’t think more negotiations would make any difference in the stance both unions have taken.

“I just don’t think it’s going to change anything,” Lutz said. “We’re half way through the year now. The unions have made a stand and that’s just where they are.”

Six people were laid off from the public works departments in late May; two police officers were laid off and a third chose to take a voluntary layoff; one of the officers has since been recalled.