Hey, what are you doing this weekend? I’m helping my father bottle this year’s crop of Casa Grimaldi: bottle of red … bottle of white. Not exactly, just red vino in our household. We like the cancer-killing grape.
Yeah baby, garlic, olive oil and red wine. What else do we need? Bread!!!
Maybe I’ll bring a few bottles to the next OIB party. But only if Bruce Hubler flies back from his comfy corner of the Sunshine State.
Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a few press releases to sip.
News release from Mayor Bill Finch
City, Supervisors and Firefighters Sign Tentative Agreements
Mayor Says “Thank You” to All City Unions
BRIDGEPORT, CT (March 20, 2009) – The Mayor today applauded the efforts of the Bridgeport City Supervisors Association and Firefighters Union Local 834 in helping to close the City’s current $20 million budget gap by approving significant contract concessions.
The Supervisors and the Firefighters together are responsible for $1.9 million in concessions. Overall, the City has garnered a total of $8.34 million worth of savings from union concessions, layoffs and position eliminations, 10 to 20-percent department budget cuts and deferral of payouts for holiday pay.
“All of our city unions – their leadership and the rank-in-file – deserve my sincere thanks, and that of every Bridgeport resident for stepping up to the plate during a very crucial time for the City and making the sacrifices necessary to help us close this budget gap. I appreciate their efforts and thank them on behalf of all our residents,” said Mayor Finch, during an event held at Fire Headquarters Friday morning with representatives from all City unions that negotiated concessions.
The Supervisors Association agreed on a new five-year contract, from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2013, which calls for two years of zero-percent pay increases, followed by increases of three percent on July 1, 2010, two percent on Jan. 1, 2011, two percent on July 1, 2011 and two percent on July 1, 2012.
In addition, BCSA members will take 10-day furloughs by the end of this fiscal year, the most number of furlough days of any employee union. BCSA includes 116 supervisors on the City side and 60 who work for the Board of Education. The savings total $824,267.
In addition, the Supervisors agreed to a change in their healthcare premium cost share, or co-payment, which will increase over the next five years from 12 percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2013. New hires will start by paying a 25-percent co-payment, which will then rise by one-percent a year to a maximum of 50 percent. In addition, any employee hired after the effective date of the current contract will now have to complete 25 years of municipal service, regardless of age, in order to qualify as a retiree who is eligible for full health benefits upon retirement.
Based on current staffing levels in the Supervisors Association, the savings from the healthcare premium cost-sharing could yield approximately $600,000 over the life of the contract.
The City also agreed that there will be no layoffs of BCSA members through Dec. 31, 2009, and will credit any BCSA member who has already taken a voluntary furlough toward the 10-day furlough agreed upon during negotiations.
“The Supervisors Association has really helped the City,” said Mayor Finch. “The healthcare cost-sharing is a momentous step forward in bringing the City’s costs in line with its revenues.”
“In these times of unprecedented economic upheaval, the BCSA knew that it was now time to work as a team and set aside any past differences with the Administration in order to avert job layoffs. To that end, major concessions were given in exchange for job security for BCSA members until December 2009. We are hopeful that at that time, the economic climate will be brighter and our jobs will continue to be secure,” said Bernd Tardy, president of the Bridgeport City Supervisors Association.
In advance of their contract coming due in June, Firefighters Union Local 834 agreed to defer payment to retirement for banked holiday and personal days accumulated in the last year. In addition, Firefighters will be able to carry over an additional one week of unused time from this current year and have it paid out at retirement. All banked days will be paid at the employee’s current rate of pay at retirement. The vacation/holiday payout would have cost the city $1.1 million before the end of this fiscal year.
“The Firefighters Union has stepped up to the plate to negotiate with the City. Deferring this payout is a key component in our cost-savings strategy for this year’s budget. We appreciate their cooperation,” said Mayor Finch.
(Click on the graphic for a larger version.)
News release from Susan Bysiewicz
BYSIEWICZ PRAISES COMMITTEE’S OVERWHELMING PASSAGE OF BILL TO FILL U.S. SENATE VACANCIES BY SPECIAL ELECTION
SECRETARY OF THE STATE URGES FULL PASSAGE OF SENATE BILL # 913 TO RESTORE DEMOCRATIC RIGHT OF VOTERS IN CONNECTICUT TO CHOOSE U.S. SENATORS
HARTFORD: Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz today praised the Connecticut General Assembly’s Government, Administration and Elections Committee for its overwhelming passage of a bill that would mandate that future vacancies in the U.S. Senate in Connecticut be filled by special election. Senate bill # 913, approved by the GAE committee by a vote of 11-3, would set up a special election for U.S. Senate 150 days after a vacancy occurs in Connecticut.
“Only the voters of Connecticut should have the right to choose a successor if a U.S. Senate seat goes vacant,” said Secretary Bysiewicz. “We have seen cases of nepotism, cronyism and corruption when governors abuse the awsome power to appoint a U.S. Senator. All you have to do is look to the examples of states like Illinois and Alaska and you will find reason enough to make this simple but long overdue change to our state’s election laws. This decision should rest in the hands of the people alone. I commend the GAE committee for its overwhelming vote of support of this bill, and thank co-chairs Rep. Jamie Spallone and Sen. Gayle Slossberg for their hard work to advance this through committee. I urge the full Senate to adopt this measure and send it onto the House.”
Under current law, the governor can appoint a successor if a Senate vacancy occurs. That successor either serves out the rest of the previous senator’s term, or until a special election can be called to choose a replacement. Senate bill # 913 would remove the authority of the governor to name a U.S. Senator. The bill would also provide enough time, with some exceptions, for parties to hold nominating conventions and primaries if necessary to determine their candidate for U.S. Senate.
In Connecticut, U.S. House vacancies are filled by a special election within 60 days or 120 days in the case of a primary. Senate bill # 913 would restore Connecticut law to what it was prior to 1947, when U.S. Senate vacancies were filled by special election.