.

UPDATE: Fire Department Layoffs Resurface After Tie Votes On Union Agreement

City Council ratification fails 3-3 on two votes; 25 layoff notices go into effect on Tuesday, but will likely to be suspended

9:15 p.m. update

Twenty-five employees in the stand to lose their jobs after a City Council vote on whether to ratify a twice failed in a 3-3 tie.

Rocco Basilica, president of New London Fire Fighters Local 1522, said the layoff notices for the affected employees will go into effect at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday. However, Chief Administrative Officer Jane Glover said Mayor Daryl Finizio will likely suspend the layoffs while the administration and union resume negotiations.

Basilica said the union concessions in the agreement included reducing staffing levels per shift from 18 to 16 personnel at a savings of $750,000 per year plus $463,000 in overtime. He said the union also agreed to forfeit a 2.25 percent raise in July and a 2 percent raise in January and give up nine positions. Basilica said the latter concession would include five vacant positions set to be unbudgeted as well as three firefighters’ positions and a fire inspector’s position, but that these would not result in layoffs.

Finizio said Chief Ron Samul told him that it would be necessary to to meet the funding level set in the council’s budget. The council initially from other areas in the budget, including salaries for administrative positions, to set funding in the department at the level needed to avoid layoffs. However, it agreed at the final 2013 fiscal year budget approval to after Finizio announced that the administration had reached a tentative agreement with the union.

Council opposition

Councilor John Maynard said he felt the agreement would result in $4 million in additional costs to the city. He said this cost would be necessary to start the department on the Municipal Employees Retirement Fund.

“The only savings in here is going from 18 to 16,” he said.

Councilor Adam Sprecace, who also opposed the agreement, said he did not make the decision lightly. He said he was also frustrated that he would be unable to explain his reasoning at the meeting since the details of the agreement should be confidential until it is approved.

“I understand that’s how negotiations work, but it certainly does serve to make my ability to explain myself nonexistent,” said Sprecace.

Following the meeting, Basilica had a vehement exchange with Sprecace after Sprecace asked whether he wanted to hear his reasoning for his vote. Basilica said he expected that Sprecace would support the agreement based on answers he gave on a questionnaire the union handed out to council candidates prior to the 2011 election. Sprecace said the details of the union agreement were given to the council with little time for consideration.

"We gave up everything," Basilica responded. "We compromised everything. For what? A f***ing pension."

Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran said she was unwilling to back the agreement until some areas were made clearer, particularly regarding pensions.

“I just think there’s so many unanswered questions in this,” she said.

President Pro Tempore Wade Hyslop asked for the council to reconsider the vote, then amended his motion to have the council go into executive session to discuss the agreement further. He said he was surprised that the council would turn down the agreement after prior efforts to avoid public safety layoffs.

“We’ve come to a point now where the fire department has basically conceded, in my opinion, a whole lot,” said Hyslop.

Friess-McSparran, Maynard, and Sprecace opposed the agreement while Hyslop and Councilors Donald Macrino and Anthony Nolan were in favor. President Michael Passero recused himself from the vote since he is employed as a firefighter.

The vote to go into executive session was unanimous. The council voted unanimously to reconsider the vote after convening in private for about an hour, but the vote again failed in a 3-3 tie along the same lines.

Union and administration reaction

Basilica said he did not expect that the agreement would get turned down and was “disgusted” with the development. He said the union gives out questionnaires to council candidates prior to elections, and that some councilors who voted against the agreement reversed their positions with the decision.

“It’s obvious some of the councilors are misinformed about what happened and they can’t read numbers very well,” said Basilica.

Basilica and Glover each said the negotiations were done in good faith. Glover said Finizio will make a statement on the decision on Tuesday, and will likely suspend the layoffs since OpSail 2012 is occurring this weekend and negotiations will resume immediately.

“We’re probably going back to the table tomorrow,” she said.

 

9:02 p.m. update

A vote on approving the agreement with the firefighters' union again failed in a 3-3 vote. The council met in executive session for about an hour and voted unanimously to reconsider the question.

Councilors voted along the same lines in the second vote, with Councilors Marie Friess-McSparran, John Maynard, and Adam Sprecace opposd and President Pro Tempore Wade Hyslop and Councilors Don Macrino and Anthony Nolan in favor. President Michael Passero recused himself from the vote since he is employed as a firefighter.

A full story will be posted shortly.

 

Original story

A City Council vote to ratify an agreement with the New London Fire Department union failed in a 3-3 tie tonight. The decision means 25 layoffs set to occur without an agreement will go into effect unless the vote is reconsidered.

The council is currently meeting in executive session to discuss the details of the plan, and might reconsider the vote when they reconvene.

Rocco Basilica, president of New London Firefighters Local 1522, said he was "disgusted" with the development. He said the union made several concessions, including reducing staffing levels from 18 to 16 and giving up two scheduled raises.

Councilor John Maynard said he thought the agreement would represent a significant cost to the city. Councilor Adam Sprecace, who also opposed the agreement, said it was a difficult decision and that he was frustrated that he was unable to give his reasons for opposing it since the details of the agreement should be kept confidential until it passes.

Chief Administrative Officer Jane Glover, who has overseen the city's negotiations with the department, said the layoffs will likely be suspended while negotiations resume.

This is a developing story.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Randy Drummond July 08, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Consider this: Your child comes home and tells you that the local car dealer has that beautiful sports car your child always wanted. Your child spoke to the dealer and wants to buy the car. You ask how much, your child says the dealer said not to worry about the price it is a great car and the deal will be great. You ask how much the interest rate is and how long will the payments be for. Your child says the dealer said not to worry just sign the papers and they will work all that stuff out later, do not worry it is a fair deal. You debate with your child and your child says that you will save money because he will cut the grass and that will save you 20 dollars a week, and he will stop buying coffee out and that will save money to and that all the little other savings will more than make up for what you have to pay for the car monthly. Your child reminds you of all the good he has done in the past afterall that should count for something. Would you tell your child to sign the contract with the dealership? Then just hope it all works out! The firefighters and the adminstration are the car dealer and the child, you are the city council. Does this deal get approved by you as the councilor or parent?
jim mcnally July 08, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Randy I can answer that it would be great if all employees and retire's were in the same plan and yes much cheaper for taxpayers and especially retires living on the plan from depression era a.d some of whom are forced to eat cat food (not a fabrication) but the city's tactics were to divide and concur indeed it would have saved taxpayers greatly but not new London. Each union negotiated individually.
Randy Drummond July 08, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Jim, I was looking more for an answer about "all regular employees are required to become members" ALL means all employees of the municipality, not some, not just firefighters.
jim mcnally July 08, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Randy under your assumption when the police dept. got in the plan then all city employees were included, I like the way you think now please call state tell them I have not received my checks and to please forward them to me, Thanks
Randy Drummond July 08, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I believe all the employees should have been unless the rule of all came after that date. Please read the whole comment. Does that make any sense to you Jim?
Carol D. Fox July 08, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Kathleen, I just read an older news report that said that Chip Segar's "payroll conversion loan" was $1,374.01 and it was waived by the City. No where does it mention that it was a 401(k) repayment. I do not know what other benefits the City offers, but I'm wondering if this "payroll conversion loan" is something other than a 401(k) payback. Jim. I have heard that some firemen have worked part-time regular jobs in order to pay into the social security system so that their "pension" can be supplemented by social security. I do not doubt that the ones that did not get regular part time jobs are living on a "small" pension.
jim mcnally July 08, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Kathleen after seeing all this negative about contract negotiations between fire department and city and now taxpayers trying to dictate negotiations is crazy, I personally believe you got agreement from councillors and now you same people to fix this mess is like asking Clara Bell to intercede between Uncle Bob and Mr. Dithers.
Randy Drummond July 08, 2012 at 07:50 PM
What was the plan for pension that the firefighters signed up for when the accepted the job offer? Was any other plan promised to these employees? If so then keep the promise and give it to them.
Randy Drummond July 08, 2012 at 07:50 PM
IF NOT!!!!!!!!!!
jim mcnally July 08, 2012 at 07:55 PM
No research their plans for teacher's known as board of education and plans for public saftey officers, police fire corrections so one shoe does not fit all. Again another reason to let your elected officals for whom taxpayers pay to represent them and have the knowledge to conduct negotiations.
jim mcnally July 08, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Yes Carol fire and police many worked part time to pay into social security I will use myself, I worked enough to qualify for $500 a month social security check but because I worked public saftey and did not pay social through that job.I got penalized 48% trickery by gov't called take backs so subtract the monthly copay and tax's leaves little to pay sup. insurance and prescription plan. The younger members see how bad plan is and want to protect they and their family's not expecting it to be thrown out to public to negotiate and be humiliated.
jim mcnally July 08, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Yes Carol the members who did not qualify for social security are living on next to nothing many of them which the members are trying to protect from happening to them and there families, yet not one person has so much acknowledged the plight city pensioners suffer why? I will let each taxpayer answer that for themselves this agreement would correct that from happen to them. Thanks for asking and you concern I am sure many pensioners are hearing about this blog.from family and friends.
jim mcnally July 08, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Randy again good question I am living under pension city offered funny just several months later they killed the pension for new hirer's even though city and union promised that new employees did in fact have a pension plan, and believing this worked for years only to find they were lyed to and on top of that city did not deduct social security as they should have by law but as pending law suite over this issue cannot say mote except I wish them good luck.
Jaime Waido July 08, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I know you have no ill will against the FD Kathleen, I was at a few meeting where you stood up for them. I also dislike the mayor as much as you do, he is a snake in the grass. I hadn't realized that the city had forgiven loans in the past. I know someone from the fire dept that had to pay his loan back immediately after he left the department for another, which he did. He also did not get the city's contribution into his 401(a) but he did learn that other people were given the city's share and had been with the city less time than he had.
Greg Bryant July 12, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Thanks to William and Kathleen, I read just read the links Kathleen posted about the pensions and the comparisons. I never considered the fact that the current pension plan is 100% taxpayer funded, with no employee kick in. It does seem a bit greedy for any group that has not contributed anything to their own pension plan to be so demanding as to want another nearly 40% kicked in at such a high cost and especially with it having to be bonded and paid off by taxpayers over twenty or more years. It is an outrageous ask in the current economy. What is the mayor thinking making such a deal after he screamed about an alleged $12 million deficit in January? All of this does lead me to question the firefighters and the mayor's motives and intentions. I have to say that the firefighters should kick in the 40% fee, afterall if they were in that plan for the last 20 years they would have had to contribute an amount mandated by law. What would that amount have been when totaled for each firefigher going into the plan? Calculate that out and have the firefighters pony up the cash. There is no free lunch. The taxpayers cannot afford to give so much more to any group. The people that want the new pension plan should pay their fair share.
jim mcnally July 12, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Gregg you are grossly miss informed the city pension the old timers have ended in 1971 since that time all employee's have and continue to pay into any plan that they may now have. And people who make wild statements only serve to harm others or is that your goal?
Greg Bryant July 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Jim, all the info from the city and discussions are about converting a 401A plan to MERS. A 401A plan is 100% employer funded. So please tell me what facts are incorrect. A 401A does not allow for employee contributions. I think that your facts are off a little. Why is it that the firefighters and the mayor do not want the citizens that pay the bills to have all the information and details of this deal? What are they really hiding? Is this a rare case of the truth will hurt you?
Carol D. Fox July 12, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Here is a link to the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the Fire/Police. http://www.ci.new-london.ct.us/filestorage/2721/Fire_Contract_2009-2014_final.pdf As you read, you will see that they have a choice of pensions. One of the 401(a) has the employee also contributing. Unusual for a 401(a). I would certainly object to a plan that our taxes are used to fund one's pension plan 100%. I think in order to get a bigger bang for one's buck, employee has to also contribute.
Kathleen Mitchell July 12, 2012 at 01:45 PM
New London City Councilor Marie Friess-McSparren will be the guest on my show tonight. Views From the Edge of the Field is a live call-in show and airs on Metrocast's channel 25 tonight at 7PM. The call-in numbers are 860-440-3154 and 1-800-253-2285 I'm sure Councilor McSparren will be able to answer a number of your questions so please call in tonight.
Emily Kendall July 12, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Under the IRS rules the 401A does not allow for employee contributions. That issue needs to be cleared up for the taxpayers prior to any actions on this agreement.
Carol D. Fox July 12, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I don;t have Metrocast, so I cannot call in. But I do agree with Emily that this 401(a) 401(k) issue needs to be cleared up. It is quite clear in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that the pensions are 401(a) (unless it is a typo) and some of the 401(a)'s offered are mandatory employee contributions. I wonder how they get around the IRS rule.
jim mcnally July 12, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Hi Gregg sorry took so long to get back to your question but we had a heck of a rain strom here in florida yesterday flooded streets and all badly so internet still going off and back on. So to answer your question and others yes the firefighters do in fact pay into their 401 accounts at 7% and the city pays 9.5% a fact I also confirmed just before typing this reply. One has to remember gov't uncle sam say's one thing then turns around apparently and makes rules changes for others, the other it appears pertains to city/state gov'ts. As is also the case with social security as fire and police do not pay into it in city of new london because the gov't allow's this a fact that really hurts when one retire's I know I am living it now and thank GOD I worked part time so as to pay into the system to enable the same amount I do now get an amount mind you is penilized 48% deduction because I worked for city of new london and did not pay there so uncle sam cooked up a little tid bit called "take backs" two of them so now my $500 check I was told I would get is now 48% less. And what is left after tax's almost pays for medicare parts A and B and some of the supp. plan. So I hope this has enlightened anyone who thinks there skull dugery going on, no all is above board and honest. But again you may now see why negotiations are kept to the two party's involved until ratification time. Only wish I could listen in to this program of Kathleen's tonight here in florida.
Kathleen Mitchell July 12, 2012 at 02:57 PM
You don't have to have Metrocast to call. You only need a phone.
Carol D. Fox July 12, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I understand that Kathleen, but I would like to weigh on the discussion taking place and if I can't hear it, I certainly will have trouble asking questions. But, please write on this column tomorrow answers regarding 401(a).
Kathleen Mitchell July 12, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Carol, Feel free to come to the studio and watch from the "Green room" You can also call from there.
jim mcnally July 12, 2012 at 04:29 PM
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/public_employers_outreach_guide.pdf page 5 and believe third paragraph will show you that all on this site claim city is paying or the law says employers pay 100% should copy and print and hang on wall. As I stated there different rules for city and state gov'ts and all it took was a simple google search to find the ANSWER. I hope now people will see the harm a little knowledge can do when failing to look at the entire picture. There is no cover up to get taxpayers to pay entire bill, just look at how much the firefighters have given up to help the taxpayers over the last two or three contracts? How many other city workers took a five year contract in which they gave up so much just to help the taxpayers as well as they have in the past to. Look what the police had to give up to get into the plan and match it against what the fire dept. has given, there is no comparison the FD has done much much more.
Emily Kendall July 12, 2012 at 07:18 PM
In order for a defined contribution retirement system to be considered a qualified plan, the worker must be covered in a plan in which, generally, at least 7.5% of his/her compensation is credited to a retirement plan account on his or her behalf. This contribution can be any combination of employer and employee contributions, but must total a minimum of 7.5% of pay, and cannot include any credited interest in the calculation. The system may include any plan described in section 401(a), an annuity plan or contract under section 403(b) or a plan described in section 457(b) or (f) of the Internal Revenue Code. http://www.tax401.com/401a-retirement-plan/ Can I make contributions to the plan? You can not. Your employer fully fund the 401 (a) plan.
jim mcnally July 12, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Internal Revenue Service Federal, State and Local Governments February 2012 QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYERS QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYERS 1 CONTENTS Just the cover page from link I provided above. Explains all very well !!!
jim mcnally July 12, 2012 at 07:43 PM
In order for a defined contribution retirement system to be considered a qualified plan, the worker must be covered in a plan in which, generally, at least 7.5% of his/her compensation is credited to a retirement plan account on his or her behalf. This contribution can be any combination of employer and employee contributions, but must total a minimum of 7.5% of pay, and cannot include any credited interest in the calculation. The system may include any plan described in section 401(a), an annuity plan or contract under section 403(b) or a plan described in section 457(b) or (f) of the Internal Revenue Code. I believe if you read it you will clearly see any contribution from either employer or employee!!! or combination of.
FDNL July 16, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I am a City of New London Firefighter for 25 yrs. Facts we contribute 7% the city contributes 9.5% prior to this 401 plan we were in the city contributory pension plan, we paid 6% the city paid 12%. Now remember we don't pay SS tax that means the city saves 6.45% and over 7% for those who don't pay into Medicare. Windfall Elimination Provision http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10045.html#a0=0 This effects everyone who does not pay SS but does on a part time job as most all us have. Depending on how much you earn on your part time job your SS benefit will be REDUCED up to 60% and at a minimum of 10% if you have 30 YEARS of substantial earnings on you part time job that's it, your benefit will never be more than 90%. To have 2012 count as a substantial year you better earn at least 20,475.00 on your part time job. That's a 40 hr week full time job at $9.84. Take a look at the web site the graph and how it all works is there http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10045.html#a0=3 I chose this job it's what I wanted, and if one night it cost me my life so that you a taxpayer might live then I've done all I can, no regrets it's how we all are. Judge me when your down and you look up and see me there to save you.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something