Cranston Police Contract

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a bigger story about this on the ProJo’s website tomorrow, but around 1 pm today they posted a small article on their blog about a hot topic in Cranston right now: the Police Department contract.  In case anyone missed the outcome of last week’s Finance Committee Meeting, Mayor Fung and the Police Union reached a tentative contract agreement and it was tabled by the Cranston City Council’s Finance Committee until April.  Which means it won’t be sent to the full committee (if they vote to do so) until the April meeting at the earliest.  There were at least 2 articles in the ProJo and 1 in the Herald about this last week and all are available online.

Today’s article said that Mayor Fung announced today that: “the council leaves me with no choice but to begin layoffs. I cannot prepare a budget based on assumptions that the City Council will vote in favor of any labor contract with concessions. I must budget savings for the taxpayers only through layoffs.” 

According to the article, the proposed layoffs will begin next Monday, but it did not provide additional details.

Is this politics as usual–based on a Republican mayor and the 9- member Democratic Council?  Will it lead to other municipal unions being less likely to make concessions if they don’t think the council will approve them (as mentioned in the article)?  Will the Council members put forth suggestions and options based on the proposed contract?  The red-line draft of the proposal is posted on the City’s website.

The ProJo articles always feature a comments section, most of which I typically ignore, but I did find one post interesting.  It alluded to one of the current council members preparing himself for a 2010 mayoral run.  Any guesses as to who that may be?

Lots to discuss (as always) in Cranston…

28 thoughts on “Cranston Police Contract

  1. Ask lanni and navarro how much co-pay the teachers are kicking in. This is politics at it’s finest. brought to you by the same folks that spent a million bucks on “fake grass” and didn’t think it was a big deal that the taxpayers paid to fix the city car Carlucci crashed. navarro is as unarticulate as they come. he embarassed himself a week ago monday. all this but they keep getting voted in. and lanni’s quote, “i wish they had come to us”. well coincilman, try just walking into the mayor’s office. put one foot in front of the other. the whole damn council should be ashamed.

  2. The main sticking point in this issue — and I think it’s a legitimate one (as opposed to rehashing the astroturf and Carlucci stuff) — is that the city may be looking at hiring back the 10 positions Fung is claiming to eliminate.

    I watched the 10 p.m. newscasts on Fox64 and Channel 10.2, and Fung didn’t have a good answer for the Council’s concern.

    He stated: “the taxpayers will immediately save $1.5 million over the course of the contract.”

    But hang on — will we save $1.5 million immediately, or over the life of the contract? Thanks to Dan Jaehnig on 10.2, we learned that this year’s savings would be $400,000.

    That’s Double-Speak Example 1.

    For Double-Speak Example 2, Fung went on to claim that the next contract can be negotiated not to include those 10 positions. If that was the point of this contract, why couldn’t Fung make those cuts permanent?

    (By the way, GCF, I think Councilman Navarro made this point quite succinctly. And it’s “inarticulate,” not “unarticulate.”)

    Beyond all that, I think it’s premature for Fung to claim that the Council “will not vote for any labor contract,” simply because they’re identifying the legitimate problems with this one.

    He may also need to readjust his expectations of what the Mayor can actually do. Arguably, his time on the Council may have given him the wrong impression about how a Mayor can steamroll the Council.

  3. One other item, besides what Jesse mentioned, is lieu of holiday pay, an officer will receive 16 hrs. of comp time. Are the overtime costs covering those comp. hours factored into the contract costs?

    Giving away management rights is another legitimate concern. Lets not be fooled here. Unions do not give true concessions. It is a trade off or quid pro quo. The city needs to be careful what it is trading for these “concessions”. Because once it is gone, it is not coming back.

  4. I would think that a review of the already ratified current contracts (fire and laborers) would be a good place to start since a good number of the current council member voted for those.

    What were the points included in those that the council feels are missing from the police and vice versa? What suggestions can be made by the Council or Fung’s administration for bringing the police contract proposal into line with those while benefiting the City and help in moving this process forward?

  5. In my view, the council is asking for permanent savings, not temporary. Councilman Navarro mentioned getting the health care up to 20%, along with new retirees paying a 10% co-share.

    It is health care and pension costs that are going to cripple the city in the future, if not now.

  6. What are the co-shares in the existing contracts?

    Also, does anyone know which of the unions is the largest?

  7. In the current contract, for a family plan, the co-share is $1300 per year. I have been told that the total cost for a family plan is $18,000. That would peg it at 7%.

    I would assume the teacher’s union is the largest, but I don’t know for sure.

  8. Sorry Rachel, I misread your question. I believe the teachers currently pay 5% co-share. New laborers pay 20%, I want to say the grandfathered laborers pay 10%. Firefighters do not share any cost.

  9. Apparently Jesse, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Thanks for your keen insight on the other matters……………


    without or deprived of the use of speech or words; “inarticulate beasts”; “remained stupidly inarticulate and saying something noncommittal”; “inarticulate with rage”; “an inarticulate cry” [syn: inarticulate] [ant: articulate]

    WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.
    Cite This Source

  10. For those interested, you can visit the address below to listen to our Finance Chair, Councilman Navarro, make his point. Making it succintly, I might add…………..

    [audio src="" /]

  11. The other factor is that provisions of this contract violate the Charter, the very document the mayor and council swore an oath to uphold

  12. It is very easy to sit here and take potshots at one’s public speaking ability, especially when there are 90 or so displeased police officers staring you down because you’re not rubber stamping their contract. I arrived late to the meeting because I was at the school committee meeting across town. To say there was tension in the room was an understatement.

    I have spoken to Councilman Navarro and he has told me what he is doing is not political. He believes he is doing what is in the best interest of the taxpayer. The savings being presented are temporary and I also question the accuracy of the savings. It was originally $1.6 mil, now it is $1.39 mil. Is it going to change again? An issue I do have is the length of time until the next finance committee meeting. A special meeting should have been called to address the concerns of the tabled contract.

  13. Takes away duties described in Charter from chief among other things. Director of Administration is responsible for grievance determination instead of chief

  14. temporary is not permanent….. mayor.. click your heels together three times and repeat… temporary is not permanent…..
    concessions which are temporary in nature only bequeath to the future of cranston more potential budgetary problems…
    if the police department/union were serious about making financial concessions, these unfilled positions would be eliminated, permanently. what about forgoing any and all pay increases for three years? let’s not forget that pay increases affect longevity pay in the future…… there are most of the public are non union private sector employees, and we are not guaranteed or have received annual pay increases, let alone ‘longevity’ increases….
    the overly generous contracts are from a bygone era…. and hopefully will become what they should be, extinct.

  15. Don:

    On the idea of further delay before the Finance Committee meets, I don’t get the impression that the date of ratification for the contract matters all that much.

    First, the contract is retroactive to last year, meaning the $400,000 in savings is “built in.” Put another way, as long as the pact is signed by the end of the fiscal year, the city can claim that savings for FY 2008-09.

    Also, consider the Mayor’s “contract-or-layoffs” argument — he’s saying that the two are exclusive. Either the contract is approved (with the savings applied retroactively), or he has to lay off current officers starting now. The Council’s response indicates to me that it’s not that urgent, and that they’re in favor of approving a contract that both saves money for the next three years and relieves the city of the obligation to rehire 10 positions, even if it takes a little more time to hammer out the details.

    As for GCF’s potshots, you get used to that kind of “dialogue” after you’ve seen it for a while. Speaking of which, please indulge me a few minutes while I dispatch with the latest examples…


    Once again, I have no idea what you’re trying to prove, but even presuming there’s a logical point to your posts, you’re failing to prove it.

    You post the audio link from AR for the sole purpose, it seems, to support your patently false point that Councilman Navarro didn’t clearly highlight the problem with this contract, namely, the requirement to rehire the 10 positions once the contract expires. I was referring to his quotes in the paper and on TV, but even after hearing the audio, I think he did a fine job framing the Council’s concerns.

    Okay, maybe his grammatical structure wasn’t on par with, say, Matlock, but he did get the right questions out there. (I also don’t think you’re the right person to be slamming someone for lack of brevity, since your pithiness hardly seems to improve the factual accuracy of your statements. It may have taken time for Councilman Navarro to make his point, but at least he made it — and it was a legitimate point.)

    By the way, it doesn’t sound to me that Mayor Fung acquitted himself very well verbally in response to Councilman Navarro. I mean, how many words did it take him to finally “explain” that since other cities and towns have made such questionable contract agreements, it’s okay for Cranston?

    (A terrible answer if I’ve ever heard one, by the way.)

    And if I can just address your earlier post, you provide the incorrect spelling of a word, then list the WordNet definition of the word spelled correctly. (Not to mention, I spotted you the spelling of “succinctly,” so there’s no excuse for you missing it.)

    Just what is this meant to prove?

    /Expecting yet another senseless response, I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.

  16. Councilman Navarro and Mayor Fung were on the Dan Yorke show today. It is a good listen…

    [audio src="" /]

  17. Don,
    Thanks for the Yorke show piece. It is obvious that there is more than just a little dirt behind the daydream here…
    the comp days, holiday “bonuses”, and minimum staffing/overtime requirements represent “savings” that may never actually be realized. No one wants to see layoffs, but then again no one wants to rush into a major contract blindly. Speed kills, haste makes waste…pick your cliche.
    GCF and Jesse,
    The verbal agility of Councilperson Navarro and Mayor Fung shouldn’t really carry the conversation. There are clearly two competing mindsets here—two completely different views from two individuals intent on doing what each feels is best for our city. Yes, it has become ‘political’ which while unfortunate, certainly is not surprising. But does the city need to save money? Does our City Council need to give every major contract the due dilligence necessary? And why did Jesse drop a “Matlock” reference???

  18. What I really like about the radio piece is that Yorke smoked out the fact that Mayor Fung didn’t consult Col. McGrath on the management rights they are giving up. And then, he would not answer whether he has confidence in his Chief of Police, which is basically answering in the negative.

    So, in getting the endorsement from the police union during the election, what did Mayor Fung promise them? Possibly a contract with a minimal financial impact on the rank and file, and maginalizing McGrath on management issues, or getting rid of him altogether?

  19. Oblomov,
    Thanks. I thought you meant the process, not the actual contract.

    This is probably a silly question, but I’m assuming that McGrath isn’t in the union?

  20. Good question Rachel: Is the chief in the union? And you wanted to be on the council?

    BTY, the deal with Fung and the cops was we will support you if you fire McGrath. Don’t these people read the charter, you can’t fire the chief……………

  21. State employees are not unionized at the top and I assumed municipal were the same.

    McGrath seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. 1. He has the Charter backing him up on his management rights and position.
    2. If he makes a fuss over the contract, his officers will dislike him even more than they already do (according to the Cranston rumor mill).

  22. According to AMO123, McGrath is chief for life I guess.

    Sec. 14.07 of the city charter…

    Members of the classified service shall be subject to such disciplinary action including removal as may be ordered by the officer having the power of appointment to the position held by the person to be disciplined, as limited by the right of appeal hereinafter provided.

    The Mayor appoints the chief of police, therefore it is his right to order his removal. Obviously, he can appeal to the Personnel Appeal Board (appointed by the Council).

    Mayor Fung can make it uncomfortable for the Col. by a) going on the radio and not answering whether he supports his chief which is saying “no” and b) taking away certain management rights and giving it to the rank & file. I’m sure the officers can smell blood in the water and turn the screws from their side too. In the end, he may only have to ask for his resignation.

  23. Rachel, Don, Oblomov:

    This whisper of intrigue surrounding Fung vs. McGrath is interesting. Potentially, it adds another dimension to the Council’s decision to delay approval of the contract — maybe they’re siding with the chief?

    Or, looked at another way, they’re not going to approve the power-grab Fung is attempting by removing grievance determination rights from the chief.

    (By the way, this raises a further question: Is this exclusive to the police department, or do other department heads handle grievances? I’m tracking down the contracts to see…)

    A point of historical note, if I may, that pertains to the issue of unionization in the police department:

    Back in the late 90s, Mike Traficante took the police “management” — anyone holding the rank of captain or above — to the National Labor Relations Board to resolve the question of whether these management staff should be considered a collective bargaining unit like the lower-ranked officers.

    The matter was resolved during the O’Leary administration with a ruling that said, in fact, the higher-ranked officers should not be treated as a CBU.

    As for the chief of police, it’s a department head position and, by definition, not covered by a union contract. The contract comes into play only indirectly, as the city may set the chief’s salary based on where the top-tier officers’ salaries are set.

  24. There’s a lot to pore through here, folks — fair warning. What, you were expecting a Tweet, maybe?


    The police contract is already quite different from other city contracts, and, as Oblomov pointed out previously, the changes sought by Mayor Fung may very well violate the Charter.

    First, the existing police contract language requires grievances to be submitted to the Chief of Police and the City Personnel Director (unique to the police contract — more on that below).

    Second, the proposed language eliminates boiler-plate language that deems the grievance “denied” if the Police Chief does not respond within the designated time. This is potentially a thorny issue, since before this change, the union could not go to the Mayor with a grievance unless it had been formally denied.

    Third, Fung’s proposal would bring the Director of Administration into the process as soon as the grievance is filed. To me, this seems like an improper intrusion of the Mayor’s office into the police department’s internal affairs and short-circuits potential settlements of grievances “in-house.”

    Here’s the link to the “red line copy” of the contract:

    Click to access 08-11%20CONTRACT%200306-red-line2.pdf

    Go to page 53 of the .pdf, page 47 on the printed page within the document, for the grievance procedure and proposed changes. You can also find the other contracts at the Personnel Department’s page on the city website.

    There’s something not very “due process-y” about that, beyond the other issues I’ve noted. What if a grievance eventually has to go to arbitration? Could the city truly claim that the grievance had been fairly heard on the department level if the Mayor’s office is involved at the start?

    I foresee some potentially devastating arbitration rulings against the city if this language is allowed to stand.

    I wouldn’t be surprised (*code for speculation on my part) that Mayor Fung is trying to create some “pro-law enforcement” cred and build a resume for a run at state AG down the road.

    What better way to do that than “overhauling the way Cranston enforces the law” and “standing with the rank-and-file cops that do the tough work every day”?

    Can you say “campaign literature talking points,” boys and girls?

    (Hmmm… Republican Mayor trying to do whatever he wants and trampling the Charter to do it — where have we heard that before?)

    For comparison against the police contract, I’ve checked the library union, the Teamsters Local 251, the Laborers International, and the fire contracts.

    They all require grievances to be submitted to department heads first, then to the Labor Relations Committee (in the case of the libraries) or to the city Personnel Director (for the Teamsters, LIUNA and the fire department).

    The library union can go to arbitration directly from the Labor Relations Committee, whereas the other unions must go through the Mayor first before seeking arbitration.

    1. They should retire the older dectectives that are over 45 years old. Most of them are out of shape and look like they eat lots of donuts.
      A police dectective should look fit and this will make people look up to him. How can you look up to an aged police dectective. How would they run after criminals. Get rid of the short fat dectectives.

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