With Mayor Napolitano about to exit office in three weeks, the Projo reports that he will be signing a major labor contract before he is done. This contract for the Laborers, of which there are 75 employed by the city, provides no raise for this year but 2.9% and 3% raises for year two and three of the contract. From the Projo:
Those raises are expected to cost $269,820, but Fung says he is more concerned with the timing of the deal and the fiscal uncertainties the city is facing. The approval would come just three weeks before he is sworn in, and Cranston â€” like many other communities â€” is bracing for cuts in non-school state aid and possibly other areas, including state aid to schools. At the same time, Cranstonâ€™s School Department is projecting a deficit as high as $10.8 million.
â€œWe need to get more solid numbers before we ratify this agreement,â€? Fung said of the proposed pact with Local 1322 of the Laborersâ€™ International Union of North America. â€œIâ€™d like the opportunity when I get into office to negotiate this contract, and all other contracts, with the financial health of the city in mind.â€?
Fung also objected to language that provides four hours of compensation, rather than the current three, for employees called in for overtime from Dec. 31 through March 1, and language that would leave employees hired before July 1, 1995, paying 12 percent of their health insurance premiums. Laborers hired after July 1, 1995, pay 20 percent. [full text]
While I’m pro-labor, I have to say that it seems the fairest thing to do right now is to let Allan Fung negotiate this contract. As our country and state face times of extreme financial uncertainty, we should be super-scrutinizing every possible promise of a raise. With the cuts from state and federal funding, the loss in tax revenue from lack of business and housing foreclosures, and the massive debt already incurred by our schools, it seems to me that the best we can probably do is to try not to lay people off over the next two to three years. The more raises we give, the likelier it is that more city workers will face lay-offs. People will lose their jobs. Services will be reduced. It’s that simple.