Stasis Locked In
I’m hearing that the Tiverton Town Council ratified the contract with the AFSCME municipal workers. That’s one out of four contracts in the town becoming available for negotiation this year that is now off the table. One out of four contracts that will now represent a “locked in,” unchangeable portion of the budget over the next three years, no matter what the economy does and no matter what happens in the lives of Tiverton residents.
One talking point that council members are using in justifying their votes to constituents is that the contract incorporated a couple of policy changes, notably minimum manning, that made increases in other areas a reasonable exchange. But first of all, the minimum manning of town workers hardly represents the burden that the same policy creates with the fire and police workforces. And second of all, these “principles” may be written out of contracts just as easily as they’re written in. This contract, of itself, is more expensive than the status quo. Whether non-dollar policies that kept the money flowing to the union members will hold their strength next time around — probably in an improved economy — we’ll have to wait and see.
If the other three contracts receive similar treatment, we may be in for an even more painful economic depression.