February 23, 2009

Why Firefighters (in Woonsocket, anyway) Will Not Accept a Pay Cut to Save Jobs

Monique Chartier

This morning, WNRI's Dave Kane, not exactly a wild-eyed anti-unionist, asked in all sincerity for an explanation as to why Woonsocket firefighters had declined to discuss a pay cut with Mayor Susan Menard when their refusal to do so meant definite layoffs.

He received the following e-mail, apparently from a former president of the Woonsocket International Association of Firefighters, reprinted here with permission.

Dave please tell your listeners they don't have all the facts. They say we don't care about saving the jobs of our co-workers. The city wants us to take a pay cut and co-pay and other give backs. Only to have a contract that brings us to june 30th.

Then what? We all lose over a $125 a week. And she will still layoff. What do you expect us to do? We know we have to give back. We are prepared for that. But the [Mayor] wants both. That's what people don't know.

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"Definite layoffs"?
Believe it when you see it. So far lots of "yapping" have resulted in ZERO layoffs of police or fire, our local royalty.

Posted by: Mike at February 24, 2009 7:37 AM

Layoffs aren't the goal. A reduction in savings is.

Posted by: Andrew at February 24, 2009 8:28 AM

The reason the mayor rejected the union's concession offer is, as I understand it, that the offer actually saved the city more money than her demands would have, without cutting pay, but she rejected it because it wasn't her idea and couldn't take credit for it.

Posted by: EMT at February 24, 2009 8:57 AM

Er, that should have been "a reduction in costs" in my previous comment.

EMT, any idea how the Woonsocket FF union said it was going to achieve a big savings without a salary reduction?

Posted by: Andrew at February 24, 2009 9:26 AM

It amazes me...the lack of support that public safety workers are receiving in these tough economic times, and even more disturding is that they are first in line to get cut...remember folks these are the people who respond when you are injured, on fire, or in distress..are you all willing to sacrifice your well being?? I know I am not....It's times these "politicians" who basked in the glory, now find ways to solve the problems, and not at public safeties expense...

Posted by: bill at February 24, 2009 2:57 PM


I don't think people disagree with what saftey workers provide. I think many feel they have been treated well during the good times (some will say too well) and in the bad times asking for benefits packages in line with the private sector and what most have isn't unreasonable.

Personally, I feel cities and towns need to look at their books and trim fat where they can. But in instances where the books are pretty lean and cuts need to be made, its the firefighter, officer, teacher, sewer worker, etc that is left (public workers). It falls more under sad reality than disrespect.

All that said, I think public support is diminished by news reports of unions refusing to negotiate when thousands of people have been laid off and not given the option of negotiation. How can Mr. Smith sympathize with a teacher or firefighter who won't take a decrease to keep their job when he was booted due to cost cutting and is struggling to find work and provide and had no say?

Posted by: Steve A. at February 24, 2009 5:14 PM

Layoffs aren't the goal. A reduction in savings is.
Posted by Andrew at February 24, 2009 8:28 AM

When there are roughly twice as many police and firemen per capita in this state (look it up) then the national average, layoffs are absolutely "the goal".

Posted by: Mike at February 24, 2009 7:28 PM
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