Toledo's mayor is under fire from unions in his re-election bid. But Mike Bell says he's been good for union workers.
When Mike Bell talks to voters about his re-election he talks balanced budget, no tax hikes, union concessions.
But those forced concessions angered city labor unions which are now organized against him.
However, Mayor Bell believes he has a story to tell. He doubts each of the 13% of union workers in the city are upset with him, saying to 13abc's Bill Hormann, "I don't think i'm going to lose every union person."
Bell is convinced union families will understand that keeping a job is better than losing some benefits.
He says, "The only option I had in 2010 was to either lay 271-people off, which we had the lay-off slips assigned, or figure out how to get concessions which kept all those 271 working."
Ironically, the police and fire unions have stipulations in their contracts that allow the mayor to lay off workers. But mayors know if they do that it hurts families, hurts the economy and hurts city services."
The president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, Dan Wagner, says, "We trusted Mike Bell 100-percent." That's why four years ago the police union endorsed candidate Mike Bell.
But the union voted *against* concessions the mayor wanted and the union charges the mayor simply imposed concessions.
Wagner says, "(Bell's) obstinence and his arrogance is what caused all this friction with our union."
The fire union endorsed bell 4-years ago, as well and *agreed* to concessions. But the union says layoffs were never a credible threat.
Toledo Firefighters Local 92 Vice President, Dan Desmond, told 13abc, "For Mike Bell to say ‘I saved 271 jobs', what he did was his job, and he protected the citizens of Toledo by not laying off 271 people."
Like the police officers, the fire union backs independent candidate Mike Collins, this time.
To them, Mike Bell has been combative and dishonest.
Mike Bell believes union families will see it differently, saying, "I think I've done what I could do to be perfectly fair with everybody and still play inside the budget and I think that's the bottom line."
Mayor Bell understands he made union members mad by imposing concessions.
But he believes union famlies will understand making concessions are better than losing your job… and those families will remember that.