Many local labor leaders cried “say it ain’t so, Joe” when he challenged incumbent Bill Finch in a Democratic primary last September. Now some of those very labor leaders are praising Ganim in a news release issued by his office announcing a labor-management pact to seek ways jointly to cut costs. And a few of the labor leaders are critical of Finch for fostering a frosty relationship with unions.
CT Post scribe Brian Lockhart touched on the subject in a recent story here. Retired city employee Val Sorrentino, who actively supported Ganim, highlighted the need for stronger communications between labor and management as part of Ganim’s transition team recommendations. City news release follows:
Mayor Joe Ganim and labor unions representing thousands of rank and file municipal employees today launched a joint effort called the “Labor Management Cost Cutting Committee” that will work collaboratively to find creative ways to cut city spending and communicate about ongoing labor-management issues. This was an effort last implemented when Mayor Ganim last served as Bridgeport’s chief executive in the 1990s and is based on the principles of Total Quality Management which seeks to address challenges in the workplace common to both labor and management and foster a more cooperative atmosphere.
“I am very excited to get this effort underway,” said Mayor Ganim. “We are currently facing a serious budget deficit of $20 million for the current fiscal year and the morale of our city employees has also suffered in recent years. We are open to any ideas to help us close the budget gap and often the best ideas come from employees on the ground. We want to send a strong signal to our partners in the municipal labor force that we are all in this together and we need your help. This was a very successful effort the last time we implemented it, and it resulted in improved services, cost savings and greater efficiencies for taxpayers. It also fostered better internal and external communications with city employees and the community, improved labor-management relations, and raised the morale of municipal employees by recognizing their significant contributions.”
Cory Bromley, Chief Steward for LIUNA (Laborers’ International Union of North America) Local 1224, said, “In the last twelve years, no city administration ever asked for our opinions or input on how to run city government and improve employee morale. So the fact that Mayor Ganim is coming to us and resurrecting Total Quality Management and involving the unions and management together in a solution is huge. The employees are here full time, so who better to ask for creative solutions to solve some of these financial problems than those of us who are here every day? This also provides a level of transparency not only to the taxpayers but also to the rank and file workforce as to how the city is being run. I am very excited to participate in this effort and I can’t wait to bring this back to my membership. LIUNA is ready to move forward in collaboration with Mayor Ganim’s administration in a positive direction to help run the city better and save money, and improve morale of the workforce.”
Mike Freddino, Vice President of NAGE (National Association of Government Employees) R1 Local 200, said “This is a good idea that is needed. This will help the city come up with good ideas to cut costs. We plan on sending out a survey to our members that asks a very simple question: What could we do better to save money and cut down on waste? This includes everything from containing the costs of health benefits to creative solutions for trash pickup and everything in between. I was involved in this effort in the past and it was very helpful. It also helps morale for both labor and management to have equal input on this committee and for individual employees to be recognized for their efforts.”
Ron Lupica, Vice President of AFSCME Local 1303, said “I appreciate the fact that we’re able to be involved and have a voice at the table with management in solving some of these financial challenges. As opposed to the last administration which was more of a dictatorship. Employee involvement is important to helping the city run efficiently. It is also important for the employees to know that the city administration is listening to them. Ultimately, this collaborative effort will help the taxpayers see the work done by our municipal labor force whether it is picking up the trash or filling potholes, and they will know their tax dollars are being well spent.”
Nancy Sweeney, 2nd Vice President of BCSA (Bridgeport City Supervisors Association) Local 168, said “I am very grateful that Mayor Ganim is starting up this effort once again. I was involved in this in the past and I can say that this is a great way for union members to get to know members in other bargaining units and a very active approach to getting labor and management to collaborate much more effectively with each other.”
>In a letter inviting the heads of all municipal labor unions to participate in the first meeting, Mayor Ganim wrote, “my priorities are to implement cost savings initiatives, improve employee morale, and bring accountable and transparent municipal government to our constituents. I believe we share a common ability and desire to address these areas through innovative and collaborative efforts. With this, through your cooperation, I would like to introduce the Labor Management Cooperative Cost Containment Committee. The purpose of this committee is to provide a forum for communication, information gathering, research, and team problem-solving.
As in the past, subjects of collective bargaining will continue to be formally negotiated. However, this committee will consist of a leadership representative from each union and representatives from management, who will work towards resolving important matters brought forth by the committee members.”
Moving forward, the Labor Management Cost Containment committee will draw up a subcommittee structure and assign chairs, establish ground rules. The subcommittees will be made up of equal membership from management and municipal labor unions and will operate with the goal of building consensus from both sides. The committee as a whole will begin to meet on the last Thursday of every month.