Lakewood Mayor Mike Summers, the two local chapters of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the Fraternal Order of Police dispatchers’ union have reached an accord to extend their existing collective bargaining agreements through Dec. 31, 2013.
The current employer-employee agreements, made in 2010, were set to expire at the end of 2012.
The Summers administration and the unions agreed to the contract extensions — which will provide for no increases in wages or health care contributions in 2013 — in view of the city’s difficulty projecting revenue losses after the state made sweeping cuts to its local government fund, commercial activity tax and estate tax, all of which had directly benefited cities like Lakewood.
Columbus is also considering a measure to strip cities from enforcing their own income tax codes, which would deal yet another significant blow to Lakewood’s operating budget.
“We all have a weather eye toward any further cuts the Governor’s administration may make to municipal budgets in 2013,” Summers said. “A one-year extension with AFSCME and the FOP dispatchers’ union was appropriate in light of this uncertainty.”
With 176 public works and administrative employees among their ranks, the AFSCME unions represent nearly half of Lakewood’s workforce. There are 11 dispatchers in the FOP union.
“Union members and the city administration are pulling together to find real solutions to our economic problems,” said Eugene Byrne, AFSCME administrative chapter chair.
Added Jerry Branco, Local 1043 president: “The AFSCME union employees have worked with the administration at every level to cut costs and maintain services throughout the last four years, and we were happy to continue to work with the city to get to this agreement.”
“We will continue to grapple with these state cuts and rising health care costs,” Summers said. “I appreciate our employees’ willingness to move forward and continue to work together for another year without a wage increase to serve our citizens in a very challenging environment.”
City employees are represented by seven bargaining units, whose contracts are all expiring within the next few months. Wage freezes are already in store for Lakewood’s non-union employees.
Lakewood City Council will be asked to ratify the contract extensions at its first regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 7.