01 April 2014

It was city council in Middletown, Ohio, a small city in southwestern Ohio, that provided the initial push for that state’s Republican dominated legislature to draft SB 5, the attack on public worker’s collective bargaining rights this past year. They passed a resolution calling on the state to take action against public worker’s contracts “so local governments can control their own finances,” which was used by the GOP majority in the legislature as the basis for drafting SB 5. While unions, their allies, organized a massive fight against SB 5, sending it down in flames, that same council this past week took another action that shows that they are far from learning from that huge defeat.


They voted 6-1 to change city rules and give the city manager, Judith Gilleland, a big raise. This action also came a year after that city’s public unions had agreed to forgo any raises in their contracts “to prohibit the city from going into further economic decline.”


“This is a real slap in the face of public workers, who’ve seen the big picture and sacrificed for the good of the city,” said Chris Klug, Vice President of Local 336, Association of Firefighters in Middletown. “Four firefighters, who were there to protect the people of our city, were laid off last year and two others jobs for retiring firefighters weren’t filled, due to a supposed economic crisis. Now they do this. It shows who they really think is important!”


City workers in Middletown receive “longevity raises” equal to 1% of their salary after 10 years with the city, 2% after 15 years and 3% after 20 years. After originating the attack on Ohio’s public worker’s bargaining rights, and pushing Middletown’s public unions to agree to freezing raises in their contracts, Middletown’s city council last week took the unprecedented step of changing city rules, but ONLY for the city manager, giving her longevity raises of 3% starting after only 5 years and going up from there.


“This sets a horrible example for the whole city,” stated councilman A.J. Smith, the council’s only Democrat, who voted against the motion. “They want to cut worker’s salaries and give it to management. That is a horrible example!


A joint press release by Middletown’s public unions stated that Gilleland should “lead by example and adhere to the same practices she’s asked us to follow!”