Quick Synopsis and Analysis of Warwick Agreement
Here’s a snapshot analysis of the tentative agreement between the City of Warwick and the fire, police and municipal unions, based on info from various sources.
Pay cuts: Pay cuts of 5% for police, 3.5% for firefighters, 3% for municipal employees for the duration of this fiscal year. No raises in FY 2010; 1.5% pay increases every 6 months from July 1, 2010 through January, 2012. These are reasonable.
Consolidation: According to Mayor Avedesian, approximately 40 retirements are anticipated and those positions won’t be filled and the duties will be consolidated. He framed this as a concession from the union, which would usually insist on filling these positions. It is a step in the right direction, especially considering past history.
Deferrals: Reduced holiday pay which can be exchanged for compensatory time or taken at retirement. A deferral of clothing and uniform allowances. We won’t pay now, we’ll pay later.
Health Care: Increase in employees’ contribution to health insurance premiums of about 10%. Edging towards reality in this area is a must, but this falls far short. The increases are in set dollar amounts, not in terms of percentage. Today’s 10% contribution could very well be down to 5% by the end of the contract. However, should the General Assembly pass the quickly-becoming-mythical 25% statewide public-employee healthcare co-share, the City of Warwick (and the Mayor) will be bailed out.
Pension/retirement adjustments: I haven’t seen any information regarding raising retirement ages, etc.
A “No Layoff” clause: There isn’t one and that is obviously a GOOD thing. According to Mayor Avedesian, the wrong version of the tentative agreement was passed to the City Council.
Passing the wrong agreement to the City Council was a major fumble, but so was the overall failure to get ahead of the news cycle on this. The days of information not getting out to the public until the Monday Morning Presser are way over. The internet and email don’t take a break over the weekend.
ADDENDUM: Relatively speaking (here, for instance), its understandable why Mayor Avedesian is happy with the results. A lot of animals have gotten out of the barn over the last few decades, so to speak, and to expect to get them all back in at once isn’t realistic. Some real concessions were made by the unions and it is worth noting their willingness to negotiate in comparison to those in other communities. So, it’s a step in the right direction even if it doesn’t go far enough for many of us (like the health care portion). That being said, it hasn’t been approved yet and perhaps the City Council will make some improvements (from a taxpayer’s standpoint).