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Mayor And Manager At Odds Over Proposed Pay Raises For Union Workers

city hall
Bill Rinehart
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has proposed five percent raises for union members of the city's workforce in the next three year contract.

Update 7/29/16 at 9:00 p.m. -Mayor responds to manager's memo:

Mayor John Cranley said in a statement Friday evening he does not "believe our form of government is undermined when you send a proposed ordinance to council for approval."

Cranley said he is suggesting a policy, and the City Charter gives the mayor and city council that right.  He stated the living wage ordinance and parental leave policy were added outside collective bargaining.

"I believe Harry Black has been a great advocate for the city in these negotiations, and I agree that collective bargaining is a financial management tool," Cranley said in the statement. "However, the financial burdens borne by these employees cannot necessarily be enumerated or compensated for through negotiations. This proposal is not made to undermine or circumvent that process, but rather to simply do what is right."

Cranley said he is looking forward to a discussion about the proposal with council members and city manager Black.

Original post:

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley is asking city council to approve pay raises to all city employees represented by the FOP, IAFF,  AFSCME and CODE. 

If approved, those workers would get five percent raises in December, another five percent in 2018 and four percent in 2019. 

Cranley said it would add $3.1 million to the budget for this fiscal year.

"For the better part of the last decade, these employees have been impacted by the City’s fiscal burdens," Cranley wrote in his letter to city council. "They have too often gone without raises or been given small wage increases that do little to accommodate for a rising cost of living."

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black issued a memo Friday afternoon expressing concerns about the mayor's proposal.  Black said he was asked by several council members for his opinion.

"Collective bargaining is an inherently administrative activity as has been the case for decades in Cincinnati and most other cities," Black wrote in the memo.

Black included a chart showing the proposed pay raises for represented employees would create a $5.5 million deficit in the fiscal year 2018 general fund budget, and that deficit would grow to $7 million in fiscal year 2019.  The raises for 2017 would be covered by the surplus in last year's budget.

"Although the administration will do its best to pursue future collective bargaining, it will become a meaningless exercise, in that our unions will know that ultimately they can bypass the administration," Black wrote. "This action would adversely impact the current labor/management dynamic and the policy and the administration dichotomy that currently exists in city government and is the glue that holds everything together."

City Council's Budget and Finance committee will likely consider the issue Monday and the full Council could vote on it Wednesday.