Friday, September 07, 2001

City OKs incentive plan for employees

By Patrick Crowley and Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A plan to share savings identified by city workers with the workers themselves was passed Thursday by Cincinnati City Council, despite warnings that the plan could jeopardize contract talks with union workers.

        All nine council members voted for the “gain-sharing” proposal by Councilman John Cranley. It would allow any city employee with a cost-saving plan to pocket 50 percent of the money saved.

        But only a slim five-member majority voted in favor of a part of the plan asking city negotiators to place gain-sharing on the table in the current contract negotiations with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents about 2,500 city employees.

        The Cranley motion included a proviso that gain-sharing should be included in negotiations “subject to collective bargaining provisions and regulations that would otherwise preclude consideration of this subject.”

        The city's talks with AFSCME hit an impasse in August over wages and increased costs to employees of health insurance. City Manager John Shirey said a negotiating session is set with AFSCME today.

        At Thursday's council meeting, both the city administration and the union's chief negotiator asked council not to try to introduce another issue into the already contentious talks.

        “Please don't throw another issue on the table,” said Bob Turner, regional director of AFSCME. “We are at five minutes until midnight on this contract and we don't need this.”

        Mr. Cranley, who modeled his plan after one introduced by Councilman Phil Heimlich in 1998, said his aim is to allow “all city employees to share in the plan,” regardless of whether they are union members.

        The gain-sharing plan would also allow any city division voluntarily reducing its budget to take 50 percent of the money and divide it equally among employees.

        In other action, council placed a campaign finance reform charter amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot that would include partial public funding for city candidates who voluntarily limit their spending.

        Council took the action after a reform group, Citizens for Fair Elections, presented more than the 6,994 signatures of Cincinnati voters it needed to get the charter amendment on the ballot.


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