Finch seeks more union concessions

Finch seeks more union concessions

Posted in the Trumbull Forum


Bridgeport, CT

#1 Jun 22, 2014
BRIDGEPORT -- Could you come up with $1.3 million in a week?
That's technically the position Mayor Bill Finch's administration is in.
The 2014-15 fiscal year ends June 30. But the mayor and his staff still haven't obtained about two-thirds of the $2 million worth of concessions that were supposed to balance the current year's budget.
And, observers say, though not impossible, it will be challenging for labor leaders to finalize a deal, explain it to rank-and-file members and hold a vote before June ends.
"I guess anything's possible, but some of the other unions are much larger," said Cory Bromley, business manager for the Laborers' International Union of North America.
In late December, LIUNA agreed that its 80 members would each take 6.5 furlough days. LIUNA, plus the fire union, 14 Teamsters and Finch's non-union staff, are so far the only groups out of around a dozen to agree to givebacks. Their concessions total $702,437.
So Finch is getting ready to send employees on permanent summer vacations, right?
Not necessarily.
Asked Thursday about layoffs, Adam Wood, Finch's chief-of-staff, said, "We believe we will be able to negotiate agreements with all of the outstanding (unions) in the very near future."
Wood also said the administration would end the fiscal year with a balanced budget, but again, no mention of layoffs.
Little time to talk
Various union representatives gave mixed information about the status of negotiations.
"We have not had any recent discussions with the Finch administration regarding contractual concessions," said Anna Montalvo, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 130 public facilities employees.
Dwayne Harrison, head of the National Association of Government Employees, which represents about 570 members, said, "We're still working things out.... We just have to keep working the deal to get the best thing for the people."
NAGE member Banjed "Benji" Labrador, who recently unsuccessfully challenged Harrison in the union's elections, said, "To be honest with you, we get very little information from our union president.
"We really don't know what his game is behind closed doors with the city," Labrador said. "(And) there isn't enough time right now to give us information."
The protracted nature of the concessions talks has raised questions about whether there was a real need for the givebacks and about whether Finch, who faces re-election in 2015, is willing to play hardball, if necessary, to achieve them.
"I have a problem with the whole process," said Councilman Rick Torres, R-130, the lone Republican elected last November to the Democratic-majority City Council. "They put it in to balance the budget, then hope to accomplish the task in a year.... It's not real."
Finch, a Democrat elected in 2007, obtained more than $20 million in concessions during his first term. So when he proposed an additional $1.6 million during last spring's budget process, and the council increased that to $2 million, union members grumbled enough was enough.
Last June, City Hall suggested most employees -- except for emergency personnel -- take 6.5 furlough days over the course of the year.
Early in his tenure, Finch showed little patience for dragging out negotiations. In December 2008, the mayor issued layoff notices to 51 members of the National Association of Government Employees, which represents about 570 members, to force the union to the table.
Furloughs, not layoffs
This time around it appears the administration is going out of its way to avoid such tactics and instead slowly strike deals in which both sides can claim a victory.
LIUNA members, for example, were allowed to take half of their furlough days between January and this month, and the balance over the upcoming fiscal year.
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Since: Sep 13

Location hidden

#2 Jun 22, 2014
That is real money in the Sam family.

Since: Jun 14

Stratford, CT

#3 Jun 25, 2014
Yes, it is, my brother.

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