Saturday, March 30, 2002

Lima city workers ready to strike over contract

        LIMA, Ohio — Negotiators for the city and a union that represents 130 city employees will meet one last time today to try and avoid a strike next week.

        Many employees already have turned in their keys and gathered their belongings after weeks of negotiations have failed to provide a new contract.

        The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1002 represents a wide range of workers, including street repair crews, secretaries and employees in the city's water department.

        Officials in the northwest Ohio city of about 40,000 have replacement workers ready to take over some jobs. There also are nonunion workers who can keep water treatment plants operating.

        The main dispute in the negotiations is over the city's proposal to institute monthly health-care premiums that would range from $10 for one employee to $40 for a family.

        The city also has offered a 3 percent pay raise for each of the next three years. The first raise would start when the contract is signed, but the union wants the raise retroactive to Jan. 1.

        The union has proposed a 2 percent raise the first year followed by 2.5 percent next year and 3 percent in 2004.


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