April 5, 2011

Sensible Deal in Providence?

Marc Comtois

Fiscal sanity coming to Providence? (I only question because the devil is in the details, which will be forthcoming tomorrow.)

Mayor Angel Taveras...said in a news release that [a new] agreement [with Local 1033] saves Providence "more than $26 million over four years, including almost $7 million in savings in the next 18 months." It includes a pay cut, a three-year freeze on raises, a reduction in longevity pay, a reduction in wage levels for new hires, and increases in insurance co-payments, as well as enhancements to city services with no additional overtime.

"Local 1033 was an honest and forthright partner in this negotiation," Taveras said in the news release. "Leadership came to the table in good faith and with a realistic understanding of the difficult steps we must take to restore Providence's fiscal health.

"These are not symbolic cuts: these are real changes that will help us address the fiscal crisis we face, both short and long term. It is never easy to take a pay cut. I truly appreciate 1033's willingness to be a partner in our effort to put Providence back on solid financial footing."

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Well done, Mr. Mayor. Shows you can accomplish plenty when you negotiate instead of demagoguing.

Posted by: bella at April 5, 2011 2:46 PM

Woah, a Progressive Mayor and a major union coming together to help close the budget gap? Okay really -- did any of you see this one coming?

I'll definitely be interested in getting the details tomorrow, but this certainly looks like the kind of compromise and mutual sacrifice (you'll remember the Mayor and his staff took a 10% pay cut earlier this year) needed to help get our city back on track.

Posted by: jparis at April 5, 2011 2:54 PM

At some point, you don't have a choice.

I'll bet Taveras has a dartboard with Cicilline's face on it somewhere nobody else is allowed to go.

Posted by: mangeek at April 5, 2011 3:44 PM

Well,I hope this works out,because I actually live in Providence-Mt.Pleasant/Elmhurst and would like to stay here til I'm cremated.
If Taveras stays with being a realist,it might not be as bad as it looks right now.
He walked into it because Cicilline lied his ass off.
I have differences with Taveras on Secure Communities,but on Helen Glover today he seemed to indicate he might not be averse to having an ICE agent at the Providence PD to take the burden off the police.OK.
I had that assignment from 1990-94.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 5, 2011 4:22 PM

I'm astonished. Reality finally hit home. Kudos to Taveras and the union.

Posted by: Dan at April 5, 2011 4:34 PM

Don't be fooled.
These will be strictly "deferrals" until after Nov. 2014 in order to get "I'm No Angel" re-elected.
The union don't give up "nothing for nothing".

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at April 5, 2011 7:20 PM

Sorry folks, I'm totally just going to steal most of my own content from RIFuture, but here's my highlights from the press briefing:

* 2.2M in immediate cuts will be made in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011
* Local 1033 workers will take pay cuts and forgo raises totaling ~%5 through FY2013.
* Health insurance co-payments will be increased for Local 1033 workers making over $50,000 -- avoiding a hit on the most vulnerable low-income workers
* Retirees with equivalent healthcare coverage though a job or a spouse will be obligated to take that coverage instead of city coverage.
* New hires through FY2014 will be compensated at 15% below the normally applicable wage rate for which they are hired

This package makes a lot of sense to me as a whole. In the case of healthcare for retirees, why should taxpayers foot that bill when there's an acceptable alternative?

The health insurance co-payment changes are also reasonable in that they don't hit people who are already really struggling, but put the public sector a little more in-line with the private sector.

However, I'm a little concerned with the 15% pay cut for new hires and attrition incentives for new retirees. If there's one problem with this plan, it's that public servants will be at an even greater comparative disadvantage when viewed alongside their private sector counterparts. Will we get the best and the brightest if the 15% cuts are permanent? Probably not.

As such, I really hope the next steps the mayor talked about in his press release also involve the business community and the private universities in the city.

The unions are ponying up... I was really pleased with what seems to be to be truly significant compromise.

Posted by: jparis at April 6, 2011 11:39 AM

J Paris-are we getting the best and the brightest now?Have we in the past?
Being a native NY'er and former NY state and Federal employee,I have seen legitimate civil service systems that work.
RI is strictly who you know and who you b***.
At every level.
Putting in cuts for prospective employees and changing the retirement system going forward deprives no one working currently of anything.
Everyone has to take a hit on health care costs,Federal retirees like myself pay about 33% and have many deductibles and copays.
We do have a large choice of plans,but most are really expensive.
I have to carry family coverage because my wife's employer(a nonprofit)didn't offer post-retirement health coverage.
I use VA healthcare so I don't even need my "family"coverage.
If my wife could carry individual coverage as my spouse,it would be 1/3 of what we pay now.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 7, 2011 6:59 AM
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