Warwick City Council Rejects Crossing Guard Contract Options

The Warwick City Council unanimously rejected a couple contract options for the city’s crossing guards last night. I guess it’s sinking in.

Calling it a bad deal for taxpayers, the City Council last night unanimously rejected not one but two proposed contracts with the municipal crossing guards union, leaving the future of the city-run program in question.
The surprise of the evening came in that all nine members of the council banded together to vote down the deals, saying the city cannot afford to supply lifetime benefits to employees who work less than 20 hours a week.
The vote came just hours after Mayor Scott Avedisian submitted an amended contract offering small changes over the agreement that had been before the council for months. The new proposal eliminated post-retirement benefits for guards hired after the contract is ratified and made several other minor changes.
But the substance of the deal remained the same: it cut more than $150,000 (roughly the same amount a private firm said it would cut) from the annual crossing guards’ budget by reducing the number of guards from 23 to 18, while promising to cover the same number of crossing stations. It also offered salaries of $39.50 per day (roughly $10,000 a year) and $11 weekly contributions to the cost of health coverage in year one of the contract.
“I would have liked to see the mayor come back with a little better contract. Benefitwise, I wanted to see something better,” council member Donna M. Travis said. Travis was one of several council members who, at one time, expected to vote in favor of the municipal contract.

Later on in the story, Councilwoman Helen Taylor states, “They are not just numbers, they are people with families and they work hard. Obviously having Blue Cross [Blue Shield insurance] is important to them.” Well, sorry, but they be happy that they even have health care for a part time job. Both Travis and Taylor had previously floated the idea of shoving the crossing guard contract over to the School Department. It kind of looks like they didn’t want to have to make this decision, huh?
Here’s an idea. Let’s just cut benefits altogether and give the guards a straight $45 a day. The days of pensions and benefits for a 20 hour work week should be over (heck, that stuff shouldn’t kick in until you work a 40 hour week). No grandfather clauses, not extras. And you still can keep all 23 guards. Back of the envelope math shows 23 guards @ $45/day for 190 days a year comes out to about $197,000 a year for the entire program. End of story.

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Joseph Kramer
Joseph Kramer
13 years ago

If Avedisian thinks he has any shot at Governor he is smokin’ crack!

Laura
Laura
13 years ago

Once again, Unions, Unions, Unions. Bad Unions. Haven’t we had enough raping by the unions. When is it going to stop. I will say this once again. Unions were good in their time, but their time has passed and they need to go away. Unions will be the downfall of this country.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

What a disgrace that a Democrat council rejects a union giveaway contract from a “Republican”.
Goodbye Scott-we recognize you for what you are. Maybe you can get a union job in 2010 like Traf. Cause nobody’s voting or donating to you for governor.

Monique
Editor
13 years ago

Bravo! Well done, Warwick City Council.
Your $45/day plan works for me, Marc. Raw political patronage is the only reason this normally volunteer function got puffed up to a ludicrous level of compensation. (Health insurance?! Sick days?! Pensions?!?!?!)

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Just a thought: who do y’all like in the 2010 gubernatorial race is Avedisian-Ciccilline? Keep in mind Little Chi Chi has taken a hard line against the firefighters’ union.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

No no no! $45/day is NOT good enough. Parents, grandparents and concerned citizens can and will VOLUNTEER to do this job. The pay should be ZERO. You can’t even keep that nice safety vest!

Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

I agree with Monique, if you can get qualified crossing guards for $45/day, go with it.
I’d forget about relying on volunteers. If a volunteer doesn’t show up for work, you can’t exactly punish him for not showing up.
Or here’s another suggestion. Have teachers who already receive health benefits serve as crossing guards and pay them an extra $45/day for doing it.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

Rhody,
Given the enveloping corruption scandals, even if not under indictment, Sissyline doesn’t look like a viable candidate.
I personally would vote for any Democrat against Scott. If we’re gonna have Brewster/Jerzyk style apocolyptic government let it come from a governor with a big “D” next to his name.

Bob Cushman
Bob Cushman
13 years ago

The Warwick City Council is working to encourage Mayor Avedisian to be more pro-active in pushing for realistic health care and benefits packages for city employees. Future contracts must reign in the growing costs of those benefits and bring municipal benefits in line with what is available in the private sector because Warwick taxpayers can no longer afford the generous give-aways which have become the standard. The School Department is currently spending $250,000 annually for health care buy backs, money that could be better spent providing programs for students. In the current financial environment, health care buy backs and lifetime health insurance for part-time crossing guards are luxuries the city can no longer afford.
I introduced a series of ordinances to begin tackling the problem of reigning in the huge personnel costs which are threatening the financial health of our city. I am grateful to my colleagues on the Council who understand that something has to be done to protect our taxpayers and it is my hope the Mayor will come to that realization before it is too late.
Bob Cushman
Warwick City Councilman

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

“I personally would vote for any Democrat against Scott. If we’re gonna have Brewster/Jerzyk style apocolyptic government let it come from a governor with a big “D” next to his name.”
That’s exactly why I argue that the Republicans don’t even field a candidate for Gov this time around. The Dems WANT an “R” in charge when the place falls so they don’t have to admit that it’s been 75 years of their hair-brained ideas that got us here.
Just look at how much they blame on Carcieri now. And he’s got less power than a Dollar Store AA battery.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Greg and Mike, that kind of attitude is precisely why the Democrats dominate the General Assembly. That won’t change unless people are offered choice on election day.
There are probably some registered Republicans out there who would make attractive candidates but are discouraged from running for office, be it for governor or at the local level, because they see how Avedesian, Chafee, etc. get trashed by members of their own party. And did Carcieri even lift a finger to help Republicans who were taking on the Democrats who most need to be banished from the General Assembly, his rhetoric about too many Democrats notwithstanding?
There’s a silent majority of voters out there who are alienated by both Democratic power politics and the excessive testosterone of GOP rhetoric. Those are the voters who could bring balance to state government, and the GOP should be working to reach them and lure them to run. Believe me, there are plenty of liberals in Rhode Island who are willing to vote for a smart, reasonable Republican candidate over a Dem good ‘ol boy any day of the week.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

As long as ‘reasonable Republican’ means RINO, I’ll continue to beat up on them mercilessly.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

The Democrats won control of Congress because they cut out the litmus tests. Guys like Jim Webb and Heath Shuler may once have been considered DINOs, but the Dems made their peace with them. If the GOP wants to be a player in Rhode Island, it’ll have to reach an understanding with the Avedesians and “RINOs” of the party.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>The Democrats won control of Congress because they cut out the litmus tests. Guys like Jim Webb and Heath Shuler may once have been considered DINOs, but the Dems made their peace with them. If the GOP wants to be a player in Rhode Island, it’ll have to reach an understanding with the Avedesians and “RINOs” of the party.
WRONG.
The RIGOP will always be minority party so long as it appeases Democrat / liberal / RINO constituencies. The record of the past thirty years of “Chafee-ism” confirms this.
The RIGOP needs to become a true opposition party espousing conservative values AND programs: low taxes, limited government, free markets, economic opportunity, personal responsibility and patriotism.
THEN the working family / Reagan Democrat majority in RI will actually have something to vote FOR and rally around.
THEN the Democrats will sink under the weight of their ownership by, and support for: public sector unions exploiting private sector workers (union and non-union alike); teacher union imposition of mediocrity in education; infanticide and welfare queens / welfare pimps.

jd
jd
13 years ago

I was a crossing guard in Warwick for two years. It was in the 5th and 6th grades and all I got was a lousy field trip to Rocky Point at the end of the school year.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Tom, the General Assembly leadership is dominated by Reagan Democrats. You can’t call Murphy and Montalbano liberal by any stretch of the imagination. These Reagan Democrats are lining the pockets of themselves, a few select union fat cats, and their corporate buddies at the expense of working families.
I support the few Democrats who stand up to these clowns. As for people like Chafee, you banish them from the GOP at your own peril – this whole mentality of purging less conservative Republicans is Stalinesque.
Working families are under assault from both good ‘ol boy Democrats and conservative Republicans. We need a third way badly in this state (Chafee and Avedesian may be part of that), but the good ‘ol boys and cons will unite to smack down anything that threatens either of them.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Rhody, what this state needs is a SECOND way. What you want is Democrat Lite and that’s just dumb since Democrat ANYTHING is what caused this disaster in the first place.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Greg, if you’re admitting that conservative Democrats bear a good deal of responsibility for our problems, I actually agree with you.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Define ‘conservative democrat’ for me. It makes as much sense to me as ‘catholic abortion supporter’.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>Tom, the General Assembly leadership is dominated by Reagan Democrats.
No, Reagan Democrats are (generally) defined as recovering Democrats, i.e., those who began voting Republican after the Democrat Party went from a New Deal dominated party to an SDS / Weathermen dominated party. M & M MIGHT be called “moderate Democrats,” but they certainly aren’t Reagan Democrats.
>>I support the few Democrats who stand up to these clowns. As for people like Chafee, you banish them from the GOP at your own peril – this whole mentality of purging less conservative Republicans is Stalinesque. Working families are under assault from both good ‘ol boy Democrats and conservative Republicans. We need a third way badly in this state (Chafee and Avedesian may be part of that), but the good ‘ol boys and cons will unite to smack down anything that threatens either of them.
Kind of like the move to purge Joe Lieberman out of the Democrat party?
The Chafee-Avedesian ilk are philosophically opposed to Republican / Founding Fathers principles.
Essentially they’re Democrats without the corruption (which seems to be what you’re advocating). Well, they should then join the Democrat Party and try to clean it up from inside (talk about an exercise in futility!) – rather than try to destroy the Republican Party in an echo-party of the modern Democrats’ socialist inclinations.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Tom, you make a pretty reasonable argument for why we need a third party. But we both know the GOP and Democratic leaders will gladly temporarily put aside their differences to prevent that from happening – they’ll have the mutual interest of protecting their own pieces of the pie, to the detriment of the rest of us.
A third party is a bigger threat to them both than, say, conservatism to the Democrats or liberalism to Republicans. It may be the only thing that wakes our political system up.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

Rhody,
I’m not interested in third parties.
(BTW, am I to take it that your promotion of one means that you agree that it is unlikely – at least in our lifetimes – that the Democrat Party can be cleansed of corruption?)
A second party – a vibrant, conservative RIGOP – is all we need to turn this state around.

Rhody
Rhody
13 years ago

Tom, if the Dem leadership can’t root out its corrupt lawyer-consultant-corporate elements (and the Rubbers Ruggerioesque union elements), then yes, I’m agreeing with you.
But if the GOP is going to make any headway, it needs to lure current Dems who are tired of the corruption at the top (and there are more progressives who feel that way than you realize). The GOP doesn’t need to dangle a carrot to win new friends, but the bellicose, punitive conservative stick won’t get the job done.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Sounds to me like ‘independent’ Rhody simply feels that Rhode Islanders won’t buy into the Republican platform.
I say that if you break the union control of the GA, get control of illegals and dead people (and S-I-S-T-O’s daughter) voting illegally, and just wait for the state to completely collapse under the weight of Democrat mismanagement the people will cry out for an alternative. And it’s not this moronic ‘third party’ that you continue to espouse.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Some people would rather fight than work together to solve problems (working together is just a stupid liberal idea, right?).

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Sure, Rhody. What do you expect the Dems in this state to compromise on? Pensions? Benefits for illegal aliens? Anything at all? Why is it that all ‘compromise’ seems to have to be on the Republican side in your mind?

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

The Democratic leadership does need to compromise on pensions, tax cuts, etc. Or are you aligning yourself with the Murphys, Montalbanos, Ruggerios, Alves, etc., the Demcorats who don’t give a damn about working familes?

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

I dunno. Do you consider ‘working families’ to be just union members like so many Dems or EVERYBODY in this state that has a job and a household to maintain?

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Everybody’s included. It rains on both those we disagree with and those of kindred views.

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