A year later, Finch still seeking givebacks

Posted in the Trumbull Forum

ctnews

Bridgeport, CT

#1 Aug 6, 2014
BRIDGEPORT -- As the police department's victim advocate, Maureen Harris has plenty of empathy and patience.

Just don't ask her about City Hall's approach to recent, one-time union concessions.

"I'm furious," said Harris, whose union -- Laborers' International Union of North America -- was one of the few so far to agree to givebacks during the 2013-14 fiscal year that ended in June.

It was late December when LIUNA's 80 members struck their deal to take 6.5 furlough days each to help plug a $2 million hole built into the budget that was approved in spring 2013 by Mayor Bill Finch and the City Council.

About $1.3 million of that $2 million hole remains, with LIUNA, the fire union, around a dozen Teamsters and Finch's non-unionized staff contributing $702,437 worth of furlough days and other givebacks.

Harris and some others experiencing decreases in pay are wondering why talks with other unions have been creeping along with no urgency and no layoffs, and whether their hard-earned money was really needed.

After all, July 1 marked the start of Bridgeport's new fiscal year, and the city did not declare bankruptcy. In fact, the Finch administration is bragging about the city's fiscal shape.

"LIUNA was first and they shouldn't have been," said Harris. "I love my job. The police department is wonderful to me.(But) I'm paying extremely high taxes. I'm a senior. I own a home. I'm struggling."

Another LIUNA member, who did not want to be identified said, "We thought we were cooperating and being a team player. But it's almost a slap in our face."

The employee said city workers believe Finch does not want layoffs heading into an election year.

Ex-City Councilman Angel DePara, who co-chaired the Budget Committee which approved the $2 million in concessions, said city workers are rightly puzzled.

"Why wasn't there more of an effort to get some of this stuff further along before now?," DePara said.

The administration has maintained that it has been talking to the unions since June 2013 when it first suggested non-emergency personnel take 6.5 furlough days apiece, which would add up to $2 million in savings.

But in a letter last month to his 570 members, Dwayne Harrison, president of the National Association of Government Employees, indicated talks had only just begin.

"The city has recently approached NAGE requesting $238,000 in concessions," Harrison wrote.

Brett Broesder, a Finch spokesman, said that even though the last fiscal year ended June 30, the full $2 million is still needed and negotiations continue with the administration's "union partners."

But this is a kinder, gentler City Hall that, while not ruling out layoffs, is waiting longer to hand out pink slips.

In December 2008, Finch issued layoff notices to 51 NAGE members when talks stalled.

"Although we haven't reached agreements with all of our union partners, it doesn't mean anything is off the table," Broesder said. "We're just not at a point right now where draconian measures need to be taken. That's in large part because of Mayor Finch's hard work in righting the city's fiscal ship.

"He cut a nearly $20 million deficit that he inherited upon taking office. Now, the city is in a healthier fiscal situation, meaning that receiving all of these concessions in one fiscal year doesn't translate into making or breaking the city's budget."

According to the administration, there are still a few months while the books are being closed on the 2013-14 fiscal year for the $1.3 worth of remaining concessions to be counted in that budget.

And if time runs out, the money would be plugged into the current budget to build up the city's rainy day fund. In April, bond rating agency Standard & Poor's gave Bridgeport an "A" but warned the city did not have enough reserves.

read the rest http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/A-year-la...

Since: Jun 14

Stratford, CT

#2 Aug 6, 2014
Another story that prove that Finch is a crook and there is still Corruption in Bridgeport.
brandy

Naugatuck, CT

#3 Aug 7, 2014
The General highest ranking US military officer was killed in Afghan war .
Not a word from obama if he was queer it would be a big story.

Sol

Since: Jan 08

Location hidden

#4 Aug 10, 2014
huh. since the last election, the TAXPAYERS have been asking for a giveback. but he's still there...

there ought to be at least a 90 day return policy on mayors.

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