Warwick Eliminates Health-Care Buybacks, Waiting on Crossing Guards
From the Warwick Beacon:
In a unanimous vote last week, the city council approved an ordinance to outlaw healthcare buyback provisions as of January 1, 2008. The measure needs a second passage before becoming law.
The ordinance was the first of a series of proposals set forth by Councilman Robert Cushman (D-Ward 1), which he believes will help set the city on better financial ground.
“I think we’re in a position now where we can’t afford to be giving buybacks and double dipping just because people are not taking healthcare,” said Cushman.
Ray Gallucci (D-Ward 8) said the ordinance wouldn’t prevent the members of the school department from getting buybacks.
In response, Cushman said he would draw up a joining resolution [to be introduced at last night’s council meeting] that would ask the school committee to adopt a similar rule banning buybacks.
Cushman said he believes that Warwick can become an example for other communities, and the state, by regaining its management rights.
“I think we’re in a position where we can show that we’re proactive leaders. That we don’t need the state to come in and tell us what to do,” he said.
For his part, [Mayor Avedesian] said he’d forward the ordinance to city solicitor Peter Ruggeiro for review if it gains second passage, which seems likely.
The ordinance said buybacks won’t be legal after January 1, 2008, but current employment contracts, which allow for buybacks, will still be in existence. That fact could possibly violate collective bargaining agreements, he said.
The mayor refused to say whether he agreed with the measure in principle, saying he’d reserve comment until its second passage.
Hopefully the Council can get this applied in the school department, too. Meanwhile, they are also waiting for Mayor Avedesian to do something about those crossing guards and their lifetime benefit package (h/t, Dan Yorke).
The City Council has again put off voting on the municipal crossing guards contract, saying the Avedisian administration has reopened talks with the union representing the guards as it tries to hammer out a less costly contract.
“The administration has gone back to the bargaining table and is continuing to negotiate on this contract,” City Council President Joseph J. Solomon announced last night before continuing the public hearing on the subject until Nov. 19.
Mayor Scott Avedisian confirmed last night that the city has agreed to resume discussions with union representatives, despite having reached a tentative agreement with the union on a new contract back in July.
The City Council has not yet ratified that deal and some on the council disapprove of the municipal agreement on the grounds that it offers too sweet a deal in a bitter financial climate.
Chief among the concerns expressed by several council members is the attractive benefits package offered for the limited hours crossing guards work compared with other municipal workers. The lifetime benefits afforded to crossing guards after 10 years on the job were a particular sore spot for members, including Robert A. Cushman. Cushman reiterated his objection to that benefit during a presentation at last night’s meeting.
Avedisian did not say if the crossing guards benefits package, including lifetime health care, was among the bargaining chips under consideration.
Um, they better be?!! After listening to a few callers to Yorke’s show, we can sum it up like this: You can become a crossing guard at 18, work 5 hours a week (with full health benefits), retire after ten years at the ripe old age of 28 and carry your crossing guard health benefits for life. Gotta love it.