The State Employee Relations Board has determined that the city of Reynoldsburg was guilty of unfair labor practices when it changed the terms of health insurance coverage for all city employees while still in contract negotiations with 17 workers who are United Steel Workers of America members.

The State Employee Relations Board has determined that the city of Reynoldsburg was guilty of unfair labor practices when it changed the terms of health insurance coverage for all city employees while still in contract negotiations with 17 workers who are United Steel Workers of America members.

In a notice issued April 24, the SERB recommended that the city reimburse the union members for the difference between the premiums paid under the old health insurance plan and those paid under the plan implemented on Jan. 1, 2008.

It also ordered the city to cease refusing to bargain collectively with the union by unilaterally changing health care benefits during negotiations and from otherwise violating the Ohio Revised Code.

The SERB also recommended the city bargain in good faith with the union on all matters pertaining to wages, hours, terms and conditions of employment.

"We've been saying all along that they were bargaining in bad faith and the SERB ruled in our favor," USWA representative Billy Boyce said.

SERB executive director Sherrie Passmore said the city has 20 calendar days from April 24 to either notify the SERB in writing of the steps taken to comply with the recommendations to correct the unfair labor practices or to appeal them.

Passmore said the USWA will have another 10 calendar days to respond. After that, the SERB will examine the actions and ultimately make another decision.

Boyce said if the city decides to appeal the SERB recommendations, the union will file its own appeal.

"Obviously, we're going to appeal it because we've already got a ruling in our favor," he said. "Ultimately, it's going to be the same decision by the board."

In a related matter, a union decertification vote that had been scheduled for March 17 is now slated to take place on June 9, after the city and the union reached a mediated settlement on a second unfair labor practices charge filed by the USWA.

Citing published comments by city attorney Jed Hood, the union claimed it was impossible to have a fair and impartial election and asked that the decertification vote be delayed until the unfair labor practices charge was adjudicated.

The mediated settlement signed by Mayor Brad McCloud and Boyce calls for no city elected official or member of the administration to promise wage increases. There is no guarantee of retroactive future wage increases, regardless of the outcome of the decertification election. In addition, the agreement says the city will remain neutral during the decertification process and no one from the city will discuss the decertification election with any media outlet until after the June 9 election.

dowen@thisweeknews.com