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Newton mayor settles contracts with all municipal unions

Posted by Leslie Anderson  August 1, 2011 08:44 PM

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Flanked by uniformed firefighters and police officers, Newton Mayor Setti Warren announced today that his administration has struck deals with all 10 municipal unions.

The deals should save the city more than $6 million over the next three years, said Warren, because the new contracts bring increases in labor costs in line with revenue increases, at 2.5 percent.

“I am also proud of the fact that we were able to achieve this at the bargaining table,” said Warren, in a press conference to announce the deals on the steps of the City Hall War Memorial. “Newton will reap the benefits of this positive working relationship for many years to come.”

Union leaders praised Warren for his commitment to collective bargaining.

“Mayor Warren in particular stands out as a municipal leader who knows how to demonstrate good leadership,” said Jennifer Springer, Greater Boston coordinator for AFSCME Council 93, which represents a wide range of city workers including library staff, crossing guards, and custodians.

The deal represents “respect for the collective bargaining process,” she said.

Asked how he would respond to critics who might say striking deals with the unions is potentially just as important to his Senate ambitions as to the city, Warren answered indirectly.

He praised the deals as a triumph of leadership and said, “I’m really proud of where we are and what we’ve been able to do.”

Warren, a first-term mayor, is seeking the Democratic nomination for US Senate in an attempt to unseat Senator Scott Brown, a Republican.

The contracts achieve savings by instituting health care plan design changes that include the introduction of a deductible, increases in co-payments, and a new requirement that all “maintenance” medications be obtained through mail order, according to Maureen Lemieux, the city’s chief financial officer.

Malcolm Salter, chairman of the Citizen Advisory Group, praised the deals because they execute a key finding of his panel, which was created to look for strategies that could help the city’s fiscal health.

The group came up with six reports, 42 recommendations, and nine “game changers,” said Salter.

One of those “game changers” talks about the need to create parity between personnel costs and city revenue.

Lisa Kocian can be reached at lkocian@globe.com

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