No pay increase for Dayton workers in 2021

Dayton Street crews work to repair a large watermain break along Keowee Street Tuesday. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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City revenue losses driven by pandemic cited as reason in new contract.

Hundreds of members of Dayton’s largest union and nonunion employees won’t get a pay increase in 2021 as the city tries to grapple with large pandemic-related revenue losses.

Union members and Dayton leaders said they had to get creative to try to hold down personnel costs, since the city’s budget has been thrown into uncertainty by major economic disruptions tied to COVID-19.

Employees “have risen to the occasion and I really appreciate the sacrifices they are making on behalf of our citizens in the city,” said Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph.

On Wednesday, the Dayton City Commission approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Dayton Public Service Union Local 101, AFSCME Ohio Council 8.

The union represents about 700 workers in public works, water, aviation, finance, youth and recreation services and other areas.

The commission also approved an ordinance setting the compensation of nonunion employees (unclassified service), which is in line with terms of the union contract.

DPSU members and nonunion workers will have their pay frozen in 2021 and also will take a 40-hour wage reduction, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

In return, workers will receive five cost-savings days. Under the new contract, employees also will be able to receive comp time in lieu of cash for overtime worked, up to 40 hours per year, Dickstein said.

There are no changes to health insurance premiums, she said, but the pharmacy plan has been modified.

Union members will get a special floating AFSME memorial holiday, which means they will receive 11 paid holidays in total, Dickstein said.

Dickstein said there will be “economic reopeners” in years two and three of the contract, allowing for negotiations on compensation and benefits. Officials hope the economy and the city’s financial situation will improve by that time.

Dickstein said she greatly appreciates the union and its leaders for working with the city during this unanticipated and unprecedented crisis.

A collective bargaining agreement approved by city leaders in 2017 called for DPSU members to receive a 3% raise in the first year, and 2% raises the next two years.

DPSU members overwhelmingly voted in favor of the new contract, recognizing that the city likely faces difficult financial conditions next year, said Ann Sulfridge, president of the DPSU Local 101.

“I think there’s lots of good things in (the contract) for our members, but clearly taking a 0% wage increase is a sacrifice,” she said.

Employees were relieved insurance premiums won’t change in 2021, and they are also pleased with two rate holidays, meaning they will not have to pay their premiums those months, Sulfridge said.

Union members will have slightly more than 1.5 hours of compensated time deducted from every pay period, but that means they will get a paycheck during their cost-savings time off, she said.

“It’s a reduction throughout the year to pay for the additional week of time you are allowed to take off,” she said.

Many members really like cost-savings days and the ability to receive comp time instead of overtime pay, she said.

City employees should be proud of how well they have been able to adapt to new work routines and requirements and new ways of delivering services because of the virus, Sulfridge said.

The city is in a financial pinch.

Between April and July, Dayton’s income tax revenues were down 7% (-$3.4 million). The city projected a more than 10% decrease in general fund revenues between August and December of this year, compared to 2019.

Dayton City Commissioner Jeff Mims Jr. praised city staff for getting creative at a time when money is tight and services need to be provided in new and different ways.

“I really thank both teams for the hard work they have put into this process,” he said.

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