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.