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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
January 20, 2006

New University of Toledo labor offer includes partner
benefits

Toledo--A threatened strike by three unions at the University of Toledo may be averted with a new offer made by the school, which includes domestic partner benefits.

Communications Workers of America Local 4319, the University of Toledo Police Patrolman�s Association and the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors bargain together for their members� contracts with the university, and negotiations broke down over domestic partner benefits, pharmacy co-payments and coverage for working spouses of university employees.

The CWA and AAUP gave the university �intent to strike� letters on January 12 indicating that their members would walk out on January 23.

However, at a negotiating session on January 17, the university gave enough concessions that the unions felt they could go to their members with the offer on the table, calling off the strike.

�The university will extend domestic partner benefits (same and opposite sex partner) benefits to members as set forth in the university�s domestic partner policy upon payment of the applicable monthly premium . . . Domestic partner benefits will become effective the first of the month following an open enrollment period to be held within thirty days of ratification of this agreement by the university�s board of trustees,� reads a document on the CWA Local 4319 web site, outlining the plan being offered by the university.

Local 4319 will hold a meeting on January 25 to explain the agreement to their members before asking them to ratify it the following day. No information was available on either of the other two unions� websites about times or locations for meetings explaining the tentative agreement.

Last February, the University of Toledo faced its second protest in three months over the lack of domestic partner benefits. The school, after refusing for a decade to provide them, had agreed to include them in negotiations for upcoming contacts.

But after voters passed a state constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage and the recognition of any relationship �approximating� marriage, the school rescinded that agreement.

The university at the time said that it could not afford to defend itself against legal challenges to domestic partner policies. However, representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union offered to defend the school if such a suit were brought.

Of the five public universities in Ohio that offer domestic partner benefits, only one has been sued.

Ohio State University, Cleveland State, Youngstown State, Miami University and Ohio University offer benefits to the domestic partners of employees.

Miami University is currently facing a suit challenging its benefits. State Rep. Thomas Brinkman, backed by an Arizona anti-gay group, claims that they violate the marriage ban amendment.

Butler County Common Pleas Judge Charles L. Pater on January 9 allowed two lesbian Miami employees and their partners to join with the university, represented by the gay and lesbian Lambda Legal Defense Fund.

Two Ohio appeals courts ruled in December that the amendment does not invalidate protections for unmarried couples in Ohio�s domestic violence laws.

 

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