Warwick Strikes New Deals with Fire & Police Unions
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
Mayor Scott Avedisian announced Monday that the city has reached new, three-year contracts with the city’s fire and police unions – pacts that provide for no pay raises, increase employee health care contributions, provide for combined additional cost savings of over $900,000 and decrease the unfunded liability for the city’s public safety pension systems by $30 million over the life of the agreements.
Avedisian said that ratification of the contracts is on the docket for consideration at the City Council’s July 9 meeting; City Councilman Steven A. Colantuono (R – Ward One), with the support of City Council President Bruce Place (D- Ward Two), had already filed the necessary paperwork to get the issue before the City Council.
Both the Firefighters and Police union membership overwhelmingly approved the contracts in separate votes held within the past week. The Fire union voted on Friday, June 22 and the Fraternal Order of Police Union voted on Friday, June 29. The city has also reached a tentative agreement with the Municipal Employees Union, represented by Council 94, which is slated to take a vote this Friday.
The pacts significantly decrease the unfunded liability of the city’s three public safety plans. Because COLAS for pensioners in the Police/Fire I plan – the city’s only plan deemed critical by state standards – are based on raises given to current employees, keeping pay levels at existing rates for the next three years will reduce the unfunded liability for that plan by $22 million, Avedisian said.
Savings for the Police II and Fire II pension systems equate to $4 million in savings per plan over the life of the contracts for a combined total public safety pension savings of $30 million.
The contracts with Police and Fire call for changes in sick time usage, changes in long-term leave policies, and also make changes in the overall operations of the departments.
Avedisian thanked union leadership for their willingness to work with the city’s negotiating team, which was led by Chief of Staff Mark Carruolo, City Solicitor Peter Ruggiero, and Assistant City Solicitor Diana Pearson.
“These negotiations were not always easy, and required a great deal of time and effort from all who were involved in the process,” Avedisian said. “I thank the union leadership for recognizing the extraordinary financial circumstances the city and state face and applaud our public safety employees for approving agreements that require sacrifices that ultimately help the taxpayers and our present and future retirees.”
Avedisian also praised police and fire leadership – Colonel Stephen McCartney and Deputy Chief Michael Babula and Chief Ed Armstrong and Assistant Bruce Cooley – for their “perseverance and determination to ensure the most equitable agreements possible.”
Finally, Avedisian praised the leadership of the Fire union – President Bill Lloyd and Executive Board members – for their “tenacious representation of their fellow union members and of the best interests of the city.” Likewise, Avedisian credited Sgt. Peter Johnston and Sgt. Eric Falcofsky for their dedicated work on the FOP agreement.
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