GIRARD Two unions reach pacts with city

Two city firefighters appeal their layoffs to common pleas court.
GIRARD -- The city has reached agreements with two city-worker unions that call for wage freezes.
Mayor James J. Melfi said a three-year contract was reached Monday with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3356, representing non-uniformed workers. The other three-year pact was reached with the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, representing four police captains.
Under the terms of the agreements, the mayor said, wages are frozen for the life of the contracts and include co-payments for medical benefits.
There is a wage reopening clause to renegotiate wages should the city emerge from state-imposed fiscal emergency.
The old agreements expired Dec. 31.
The police officers represented by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 51 Ohio Labor Council, representing patrol officers and dispatchers, have settled on a similar contract.
Melfi said the firefighters represented by the International Association of Firefighters Local 1120 are seeking a pay raise. The issue has been sent to a fact finder for a resolution.
Firefighter layoffs
On another labor matter, the case of two furloughed firefighters is being appealed to Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. Brian Iceman and Jacob Barnhart were laid off last December as part of cost-cutting measures.
The notice of appeal has been filed by their attorney, Dennis Haines of Youngstown. He is appealing a ruling by the Girard Civil Service Commission that approved the layoffs.
The basis of the appeal is that the city failed to comply with state law, which requires it to file a statement of rationale to the commission at the time of the layoffs, and that the commission failed to enforce the requirement.
It wasn't until Jan. 21 that the commission received a letter from Auditor Sam Zirafi establishing the financial condition of the city as the basis for the layoffs.
Law Director Mark Standohar argued before the commission that there is no doubt that the city did not strictly comply with state law. But the commission sided with Standohar that the city's noncompliance constitutes harmless error.
If the city had strictly followed state law, the layoffs would certainly have been proper based on the city's financial condition, the commission ruled.