Warren council OKs dispatchers’ agreement

WARREN – Warren City Council accepted a fact-finder’s recommendations on Wednesday to approve a 2 1/2-year agreement with the city’s 11 police dispatchers and communication coordinator employees.

The agreements includes wage increases of 1.5 percent for this year, next year and in 2016; and changes to health care benefits that would begin in 2015.

Councilman Eddie Colbert, chairman of the finance and safety committee, said the Ohio Patrolman’s Benevolent Association for the dispatchers also approved the agreement.

He said the contract is retroactive to July 1. Because the union waited until two months ago to reopen the contract, which then went to fact-finder, it could not be retroactive to January, he said.

Colbert said the wage proposal is expected to cost Warren between $30,000 and $40,000 over the life the contract.

”I am pleased with the fact that the contract is cost-neutral to the city’s general fund. At the end of the day, it is a good agreement,” Colbert said.

Union members sought the 1.5 percent pay increase for this year and next and were willing to consider an agreement for the same amount in 2016 and wanted to maintain their current health care coverage, according to the fact-finder.

The union agreed to the health care changes, which city officials said allowed money to be freed for modest pay increases for other bargaining units.

The proposal calls for the city’s existing health care plan to cover bargaining unit employees through the end of 2014, when employees hired before January 2011 would be given a choice of paying 10 percent of the monthly premium with caps of $50 a month for single and $100 for family, or to not pay the premium and pay higher deductible and out-of-pocket costs.

City Council in June approved a separate report that gave 1.5 percent pay increases to 24 mid-to upper-level management employees and required the city to pay more toward their retirement.