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Salem Council OKs pacts

SALEM — City council approved a 2.5 percent wage increase in the first year of union contracts for the service, utilities and fire departments Tuesday night, followed by a wage reopener next spring.

No wage agreement was reached, however, with the police union.

Mayor John Berlin said the contract will go into mediation or arbitration with a labor negotiator.

“I couldn’t come to an agreement with the police,” he said.

When asked about the possible sticking points, Berlin said he couldn’t comment on ongoing negotiations. He also had no timeframe for when something may happen with the wage portion of the contract.

All four unions approved three-year contracts last month dealing with everything but wages, agreeing to wait until after Oct. 1 to discuss raises. This extra time was to give the city a chance to see how the finances were looking under COVID-19 since income has been impacted by business closures and layoffs during the pandemic.

The contracts go from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023.

Discussions started in May with the Fraternal Order of Police Ohio Labor Council, Salem Firefighters Local 283 of the International Association of Firefighters, Utilities Workers Union of America AFL/CIO Local 560 and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2701. AFSCME represents street department and traffic and safety employees, along with two full-time park employees, the income tax clerk and custodian.

Berlin said the wage increase for represented service, utilities and fire personnel will be retroactive to July 1, with the first year ending June 30, 2021. The wage reopener for the final two years won’t occur until after May 1. He explained that the city doesn’t know at this point what’s going to happen with the income tax receipts next year, which was the reason for the reopener after one year.

“We felt confident the 2.5 percent was fair,” he said regarding the first year.

City council immediately went into executive session after opening the Zoom meeting, listing the reasons as contractural discussions, a possible property purchase and personnel discussions. After more than an hour, city council returned. During the Zoom meeting, those not permitted in the executive session were placed in a waiting room and then brought back for the open session.

Council approved all three readings at once for each of the three union wage agreements, passing them as emergencies so they take effect immediately.

In other business, council approved the appropriation of $418,692 into the coronavirus fund since the city received more CARES Act funding and also held second reading on an ordinance banning door-to-door soliciting, with some exceptions for church groups, non-profits and youth.

City council approved Berlin’s appointment of city resident Kyle Cranmer to the city Utilities Commission to an unexpired term which ends Dec 31, 2022. The seat had been vacated by former commission member Tim Weingart, who moved out of state, and temporarily filled by city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst, who’s retiring in November. Members of the commission receive $107.55 monthly for their service.

Cranmer, who co-owns Salem Tire, resides with his wife, Shannon, and son Jackson. He’s a 1996 graduate of Salem High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and accounting in college.

His grandfather was former Mayor Dean Cranmer, namesake of the West State Street overpass, and his dad and uncle both served with the city fire department and another uncle served as a police officer for the city. His dad, Dave, also served as a Columbiana County Commissioner.

Berlin said the Cranmer family has a long history of helping the community.

Council also named Berlin as the city’s delegate to the Regional Council of Governments board for the Regional Income Tax Agency, with Council President Tom Baker as the alternate.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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