February 27, 2009

Warwick Contract Update

Marc Comtois

Russel J. Moore at the Warwick Beacon has an updated story on the pending Warwick union contracts:

The concessions from unions were originally reported in newspapers, and on televisions newscasts and on radio stations to save taxpayers just over $9.7 million. But the actual concessions from the city bargaining units (police, fire, and municipal workers) will save taxpayers about $6.35 million.

The remaining $3,375,398 will be attained from savings from the city’s management employees. The savings will be attained from the 28 retiring management employees that would go unfilled, a 3-percent pay cut they will receive for the rest of the year, and a required increased pension contribution by employees.

While those savings represent a clear benefit to taxpayers, they’re not part of the bargaining agreements the city council will be asked to ratify on Friday evening. The administration, as it did last July when it mandated management employees increase their healthcare co-share payments to 10 percent, can unilaterally impose these cost savings measures on them at any time. {Emphasis added.}

The City Council meets is tonight at 6 PM at City Hall. There is some skepticism:
City Councilman Steve Merolla (Ward-9) said while the co-share payments are increased in this agreement, he’s still not thrilled with the fact that they’re still much lower than most private sector employees pay. The co-share payment for a single plan for all city employees will increase from $11 per week to $14 per week. For a family plan, the cost will increase from $11 per week to $28 per week.

While it will increase the percentage of the cost for a single plan to just over 12 percent, and the percentage of the cost of a family plan to about 10 percent, those percentages will decrease in the future years as the cost of health insurance continues to spiral, Merolla pointed out.

“These health insurance co-pays are structured so that they’ll be paying a lower percentage of the cost in future years,” said Merolla.

State workers pay 20-25 percent of the cost of their healthcare based upon seniority.

City councilman Joseph Solomon (Ward-4), while never one to tip his hand, seemed skeptical about the deal. Solomon said he has “many questions” about the tentative agreement that he plans to ask at Friday night’s meeting.

“I do have many questions with respect to what he’s given to us and when I receive the answers to those questions I will be able to make a decision based on that knowledge, not what I got from reading newspapers, watching television, or listening to the radio,” said Solomon.

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Subtract another $1.8 million from the deferred benefits and the so called savings are down to $4.55 million. Also, the municipal and police officiers that are retiring will retire regardless if these contracts are ratified. So the question is should the savings attributed to not filling those positions really be tied to these contracts?

The only real savings in these contracts is the pay cuts all three unions will take from March 1 - June 30, 2009 and the miniscule increase in co-pay. Have not done the math but I would figure this represents less then $2 million.

So much for this great contract. A year or two from now Warwick taxpayers can look back at the extended teachers contract that did not save any money and these contracts and wonder why things seem to get worse.

Posted by: savings a joke at February 27, 2009 4:23 PM

Sorry "savings a joke"-the contracts got passed with flying colors last night. So now that that's done, why don't you and your anti-union, scab loving, republican morons move to South Carolina where you belong!!!

Posted by: joe at February 28, 2009 8:55 AM
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