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May 22--YOUNGSTOWN -- City council approved contracts with two labor unions that provide salary increases for the first time in about four years.
The deals with the Teamsters Local 377, which represents 30 street department workers, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2726, which represents 88 water department employees, both include raises of 1 percent this year, 1.5 percent in 2015 and 1 percent in 2016.
"The city can live with" the pay increases, said Mayor John A. McNally. "Our street and water employees have done great jobs."
Council voted Wednesday in favor of the two contracts.
These two contracts and the police patrol officers unions, approved in April, have set the pay-raise amounts for other unions negotiating deals with the city.
"It was a fair agreement," said Breen McNally, president of the water union. "We'd like to get more money, but we understand the city's finances."
The mayor also said he was pleased caps on employee contributions toward health care premiums will be removed in 2016, and that the unions and the city will create a committee to review health insurance plans to recommend changes to keep costs down.
Breen McNally, who is the mayor's second cousin, said: "Everyone is nervous with health insurance costs, but the cap [removal] is fine. The unions will help figure out what's best for" health coverage.
In addition to the pay raises, water department union members will receive a $400 bonus in 2016 in what the contract's executive summary describes as "hazardous and safety sensitive duties."
The union usually fixes 30 to 35 waterline breaks in January and February, and did 131 during those two months this year, Breen McNally said.
Rich Sandberg, Teamsters Local 377 president, couldn't be reached Wednesday by The Vindicator to comment. But he recently told the newspaper that the union members are working hard, particularly with the harsh winter, and that the contract is fair to both sides.
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