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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.

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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.

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