Union Rejects Coleman's Pay Freeze Proposal

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A union representing professionals and managers across city departments rejected Mayor Michael Coleman's request for a pay freeze on Friday.

In a letter posted to its Web site, the Columbus Municipal Association of Government Employees responded to Coleman's request, saying city spending needed to be controlled before concessions could be effective.

"Immediate costs saving measures have not been pursued before implementing a proposal that will negatively impact employees' lives and families," the letter read.

The union also urged the city to decrease its use of outside consultants and use existing city employees, and implement a four-day, 40-hour work week in non-critical service facilities.

Earlier this month, Coleman asked the seven unions representing city workers to accept a pay freeze to help the city combat a budget deficit.

Under Coleman's plan, the pay freeze would save the city $10 million, leaving $3 million on the current budget deficit. In a letter to the unions, Coleman said that if he did not receive a response by Friday then he would have no choice but to initiate more layoffs and trim more city services.

On Thursday, the Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing Columbus police, filed an unfair labor practice charge with the state's Employment Relations Board in response to Coleman's request.

Union president Jim Gilbert said he did not necessarily oppose the request for a pay freeze, but he said Coleman did not follow guidelines put in place for collective bargaining.

"We specifically have signed and city's representatives have signed ground rules for how we would bargain in this negotiation process," Gilbert said. "Dealing with the media directly and appealing to our membership through the suggestion of layoffs and things of that nature violated the contract and violated the agreement we have signed with the city."

In a statement released Thursday, Coleman said his request did not amount to an unfair labor practice and was intended to help the city battle a budget deficit of $97 million.

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