Mayor Bill Finch has triggered an ear-splitting siren to members of the Bridgeport PD they’ve not heard in their collective careers: give me concessions otherwise I’ll have no choice but to pink-slip a dozen higher-ranking members to close a runaway budget deficit.
Finch needs concessions in overtime, benefits and future salary, among other things. Here’s the interesting part–the current union contract that was hammered out three years ago doesn’t include bumping rights. The larger unanswered question: does a provision of Civil Service provide bumping rights? Finch’s action targets higher-paid senior grades versus the patrol dvision. The only cop not part of the union is the police chief.
Either way, Finch is showing balls that clank. I’ve seen former mayors John Mandanici, Lenny Paoletta and Joe Ganim (Joe achieved major concessions from cops) take hard-line negotiating positions with police. Never have I seen a mayor announce pink slips by week’s end. Why target the PD? Union leadership has failed to realize the desperate nature of city finances. If they don’t understand it now, they never will. And some cops didn’t do themselves any favors hurling despicable fuck bombs at Finch in front of children when they picketed his golf charity more than a month ago.
A lot of city employees, including Finch direct hires, have given up a week’s pay to help close the budget gap. Union leadership in the Fire Department has already decided to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. And it also took a hit a year ago, losing an engine company.
The city, like many in the state, is spewing oil. No one wants layoffs of uniformed services, but this is a pivotal moment in negotiations between the city and police union. So, who’s gonna blink? See Finch news release below.
Mayor Finch Announces Layoffs, Additional Budget Cuts
31 City Employees to be Notified
BRIDGEPORT, CT (Sept. 22, 2008) – Mayor Bill Finch today announced that 31 city employees will be receiving layoff notices by week’s end. The layoffs are project to save the city nearly $2 million dollars annually.
The layoffs come after the mayor asked for recommendations from City department heads to find ways to cut their budgets by 10 to 20 percent. In addition to the layoffs, other budget-cutting measures such as furloughs, freezing of open positions and reduction in hours already have been enacted. The combined cost savings is anticipated to hit $3.5 million dollars. The layoffs affect many city departments, including the Police department, however, the layoffs there will not affect front-line patrol or investigative services. One key exception is the Fire department, which already had closed Engine 5 last year as part of its cost-savings measures.
“I do this out of a sense of necessity to reduce our spending as a city and to achieve the $1.5 million in personnel adjustments that I called for when we submitted the budget,” the Mayor said. Bridgeport, along with other big cities in the state, is feeling the effects of the uncertainty in the economy, which is having an effect on revenue projections, an example of which is a sharp decline in conveyance tax revenue through property transactions.
The furlough program for all non-union employees has already saved the City well over $100,000, and includes furloughs taken by the Mayor’s own staff. “I would like to thank each and every City employee for making this sacrifice with us,” he said. Employees who chose to take the furlough now have the option of having the funds deducted from their paychecks on a weekly basis through April 9. City employees who are interested in spreading out the deductions can contact Labor Relations at 576-7610. Furloughs citywide are still on the table with union employees in negotiations.
“We are doing more with less. But we are also pursuing many avenues to increase revenue including, sales of city-owned property such as the Elias Howe School building, a re-implementation of the Bootfinder program and a complete health insurance membership audit, as ways to increase revenue and forestall a potential deficit,” Mayor Finch said.