On Friday, employees in the Municipal Union, Local 1651 overwhelmingly approved a three-year contract with the city, freezing wages for three years and doubling health care payments.
“It was a tough agreement,” Jean Bouchard, president of the local, said yesterday.
The contract, along with agreements for police and fire that likewise hold wage increases and increase health care co-payments, was scheduled to come before the City Council last night.
Bouchard credited city workers with understanding the difficult times faced by municipalities. She said job security and preservation of pension benefits played a role in the sacrifices made in accepting a contract that ends up costing members more.
In a release issued by his office, Mayor Scott Avedisian thanked the municipal employees for their willingness to work with the city on the agreements.
“Our municipal employees, like our public safety employees, realize the very difficult economic circumstances facing our city and state,” Avedisian said. “I thank them for their continued commitment to our community and for their willingness to make sacrifices to help our taxpayers.”
He also credited union president Jean Bouchard and members of the executive board for their efforts to negotiate with the city.
Bouchard said talks started in March and extended over several months in multiple sessions. Of the three unions whose contracts came before the council, Bouchard said city workers are the least paid.
“I know how hard they work. They make these sacrifices time and time again,” she said.
In this case, she said, the workers are doing their part to keep the city’s financial house in order, adding, that when conditions improve she would hope the workers would share in the benefits.
The contract is also expected to reduce the municipal pension system’s unfunded liability by roughly $2 million, Avedisian said. All told, the three contracts will reduce the city’s unfunded pension liability by $32 million.
The union represents 260 municipal employees. Of the 123 voting on the agreement, 105 were in favor.