LORAIN — City Council voted Monday night to support Lorain County Job and Family Services union employees who have been on strike for more than a week.
Councilwoman Mary Springowski, D-at large, who is a member of the UAW CAP Council, said she has seen her brothers and sisters in UAW Local 2192 on the picket line and was asking for Council to stand behind them.
“The commissioners took this fight to social media and into the newspaper, and all I’m asking is that we support these people, many of whom reside in the city of Lorain, many of whom practically qualify for the assistance they render to others,” she said. “We need to start recognizing these workers and all that they do.”
She said Council’s 7-2 vote supporting the resolution is sending a strong message that they’d like the strike to stop and for the parties to come back to the negotiating table.
About 170 employees represented by UAW Local 2192 have been striking since 12:01 a.m. Sept. 25 after contract negotiations broke down over spousal health care coverage.
Commissioners want a contract in which if an employee’s spouse has insurance available through his employer, the spouse would be required to be on his or her employer’s plan while county employees and children would stay on the county plan. If the spouse doesn’t have access to employer insurance or makes less than $25,000, the spouse could stay on the county plan.
If the spouse wants to stay on the county plan and does not meet any of the criteria, commissioners want the county employee to pay a surcharge in addition to the cost of the plan.
Chairwoman of the union bargaining committee Kelly Fields said the union’s only issue with this is that the county has not said what the cost of the surcharge would be and likened it to commissioners asking workers to sign a blank check.
Councilman Greg Argenti, I-4th Ward, said after spending time with the union members Monday, he felt the “sticking point” on the negotiations is “silly.”
Councilman Joe Koziura, D-at large, along with JoAnne Moon, D-5th Ward, voted against the resolution. Councilmen Angel Arroyo and Joe Faga were not present.
Council approved a collective bargaining agreement of its own Monday for city workers in Local USW Local 6621, which includes a 1 percent wage increase in 2018, a $500 bonus in 2017 and a $250 bonus in 2018, with the contract being reopened in 2019.
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