Gahanna City Council approved a Steelworkers Health and Welfare Fund agreement Dec. 20, but the decision wasn't unanimous or without a call for change at the state level.

Gahanna City Council approved a Steelworkers Health and Welfare Fund agreement Dec. 20, but the decision wasn't unanimous or without a call for change at the state level.

Council member John McAlister was the lone dissenter on the legislation that authorizes the mayor to enter into a Steelworkers fund-participation agreement for insurance to be effective Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2011.

"This whole ordinance is really a predicament," McAlister said. "As far as I can tell, it allows a $100-deductible health-insurance plan. I think an average (citizen pays) $1,500 deductible. By law, our hands are tied. If we don't pass, it goes to arbitration."

McAlister said he didn't want to encourage his colleagues to vote against the legislation, as it would leave employees "out in the cold" with no insurance.

"I would like to be the one voice of sanity," he said. "The city can't continue paying out health insurance with these deductibles. Things are going to change. This city is hurting for money."

Human-resources director Kristen Treadway previously told council the Steelworkers agreement represents about 32 employees, including office workers.

Councilman Shane Ewald said new legislators are talking about a review of collective bargaining at the state level. He said he encourages local residents to contact state Rep. Nancy Garland (D-New Albany), who represents the 20th House District, and Sen.-elect Kevin Bacon, who will represent the 3rd Senate District.

Council member Beryl Anderson voted for the ordinance but "not for the concept," she said.

"The unions have lack of give and take," Anderson said. "We need to be vigorous. We as citizens need to push for change as stated before."

Council members Ewald, Tom Kneeland, Brian Larick, Nancy McGregor and David Samuel voted in favor of the ordinance.

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb said the agreement is a one-year extension.

She city the city's negotiations team worked "at the table" all day Monday.

"We're holding a tough line," she said. "John is right in that our negotiating team comes up with the best we can."

Finance director Angel Mumma said the negotiations differ with the Steelworkers compared to the city's safety forces.

"You're not bound to the conciliator's decision," she said. "There could be options."

Council's next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 3, when members are expected to vote on the 2011 appropriations.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

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