February 24, 2009

Quick Synopsis and Analysis of Warwick Agreement

Marc Comtois

Here's a snapshot analysis of the tentative agreement between the City of Warwick and the fire, police and municipal unions, based on info from various sources.

The Good:

Pay cuts: Pay cuts of 5% for police, 3.5% for firefighters, 3% for municipal employees for the duration of this fiscal year. No raises in FY 2010; 1.5% pay increases every 6 months from July 1, 2010 through January, 2012. These are reasonable.

Consolidation: According to Mayor Avedesian, approximately 40 retirements are anticipated and those positions won't be filled and the duties will be consolidated. He framed this as a concession from the union, which would usually insist on filling these positions. It is a step in the right direction, especially considering past history.

The Sketchy:

Deferrals: Reduced holiday pay which can be exchanged for compensatory time or taken at retirement. A deferral of clothing and uniform allowances. We won't pay now, we'll pay later.

The Disappointing:

Health Care: Increase in employees’ contribution to health insurance premiums of about 10%. Edging towards reality in this area is a must, but this falls far short. The increases are in set dollar amounts, not in terms of percentage. Today's 10% contribution could very well be down to 5% by the end of the contract. However, should the General Assembly pass the quickly-becoming-mythical 25% statewide public-employee healthcare co-share, the City of Warwick (and the Mayor) will be bailed out.

The Missing:

Pension/retirement adjustments: I haven't seen any information regarding raising retirement ages, etc.

A "No Layoff" clause: There isn't one and that is obviously a GOOD thing. According to Mayor Avedesian, the wrong version of the tentative agreement was passed to the City Council.

Passing the wrong agreement to the City Council was a major fumble, but so was the overall failure to get ahead of the news cycle on this. The days of information not getting out to the public until the Monday Morning Presser are way over. The internet and email don't take a break over the weekend.

ADDENDUM: Relatively speaking (here, for instance), its understandable why Mayor Avedesian is happy with the results. A lot of animals have gotten out of the barn over the last few decades, so to speak, and to expect to get them all back in at once isn't realistic. Some real concessions were made by the unions and it is worth noting their willingness to negotiate in comparison to those in other communities. So, it's a step in the right direction even if it doesn't go far enough for many of us (like the health care portion). That being said, it hasn't been approved yet and perhaps the City Council will make some improvements (from a taxpayer's standpoint).

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Get the details of Charlie the Clown's sellouts in NP. 8 whole paychecks of miniscule "deferrals" while the taxpayers get whacked with $4 million in tax hikes and a $3 million "tax anticipation bond" that will result in even more taxes next year.

Once again the total number of laid off royalty-police and fire-is now and will remain ZERO statewide.

Posted by: Mike at February 24, 2009 7:19 PM


There IS some great news on layoffs.
The Communist-front, anti-Christian Providence Journal has just canned a fifth of its Politburo members-100 in all.
This should, I trust, brighten the mood at The Follies on Friday night. LOL.

Yes Rhody I am celebrating Communists losing their jobs. My message to them is Get Out Of The F------ State-we have had enough of your progressive filth. See if Castro or Chavez are hiring.

Posted Feb 24, 2009
Newspaper Guild: Journal to cut 100 jobs

By Denise Perreault
PBN Staff Writer
THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL announced cuts of another 100 jobs, including 18 in the newsroom of the state's largest newspaper.

PROVIDENCE – Some 100 jobs will be eliminated at the Providence Journal Co., including 18 news and 34 advertising positions, the president of the Providence Journal Unit of the Providence Newspaper Guild confirmed this afternoon.

“It’s very sad, there are some very good people that are going out the door on this,” said John Hill, union chief and a reporter for The Providence Journal, the state’s major daily newspaper, which is owned by Dallas-based A.H. Belo Corp. (NYSE: AHC).

Of the 100 local jobs, 52 are Guild positions, comprising 18 news and 34 advertising personnel. He said their last day of work is scheduled to be March 6.

Hill said the Guild members slated to be laid off include advertising sales representatives, photographers, photo editors and support staff members responsible for “a thousand little things needed to make an office run.”

The union cannot contest the layoffs, according to Hill. “The company has the right to decide how many people they hire,” he said. He called the reductions “Dallas-driven” to create a leaner newspaper because, he said, the union offered concessions such as unpaid furlough days to save jobs, but the company rejected such overtures.

“We have not provided any information to our employees,” Maribel Correa, director of investor relations and corporate communications for A.H. Belo in Dallas, told Providence Business News. But she did not rule out the possibility that word could have leaked to the Guild.

Correa reiterated the parent company’s earlier statement that any job reductions would be completed by the time the first quarter ends on March 31. (Attempts to contact Howard G. Sutton, publisher of the Journal, were not successful.)

The A.H. Belo last week reported a net loss of $62.30 million for 2008 on revenue of $637.3 million (READ MORE), which was an improvement on its 2007 loss of $347.01 million.

The company’s financial results have forced it to take a series of actions to control costs. The latest downsizing plans were announced Jan. 30 in a letter to employees from Robert W. Decherd, chairman, president and CEO of A.H. Belo Corp. (READ MORE)

At the time, the Providence Newspaper Guild – which represents about 400 employees at the Journal – called on Decherd to give back the 140 percent pay raise he was granted in December.

“Such a move would save the company $350,000,” the union said at the time.

When Decherd made the announcement, the company also said that it was suspending its savings-plan match for employees, effective April 1, to save about $5.5 million annually and limit job losses.

At the start of the year, the company eliminated its 2 percent base contribution to employee 401(k) retirement accounts, and “the new change means the company will no longer pay any retirement contributions,” the union added.

In October, A.H. Belo announced it had renegotiated its line of credit and said it was freezing some salaries effective Nov. 1. (READ MORE) Other changes at non-union newspapers in Dallas and Riverside have included the imposition of parking fees and cuts in cell-phone allowances, according to the Providence Newspaper Guild. Both benefits are protected by the collective bargaining agreement in Providence, and therefore cannot be changed without negotiation, the union added.

In September, 22 employees of the Journal – in editorial, advertising and office positions – accepted voluntary buyouts; another 31 news employees lost their jobs the next month in involuntary layoffs. (READ MORE) Those job cuts were part of the elimination of 500 full-time equivalents (FTEs) companywide – or about 14 percent of the work force – that Decherd had announced in July.

Posted by: Mike at February 24, 2009 9:06 PM
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