1 Labor Contract Settled

Thomas Breen photoA city union that represents over 400 emergency dispatchers, school security guards, and a diverse array of public administrative and clerical staff has come to a new collective bargaining agreement with the city after working without a contract for nearly two years.

During a Board of Alders Finance Committee hearing at City Hall on Thursday night, City Budget Director Joe Clerkin presented some of the key provisions of the new five-year contract between the city and AFSCME Local 884.

The local represents 411 city employees in a variety of non-managerial positions, ranging from data control clerks and accounts payable auditors in the city’s Finance Department to school security guards to 911 dispatchers.

The local’s membership voted to ratify the agreement on May 25. The Board of Alders has until July 9 to approve or reject the terms of the deal. The committee did not take a vote on it Thursday night.

The new contract is the union’s first since its previous agreement with the city expired at the end of June 2015. The five-year collective bargaining agreement is retroactive, picking up where the local’s previous contract ended on July 1, 2015 and extending through June 30, 2020.

Although the Local 844 contract is just one legislative vote away from taking effect, the city is still in negotiations with a number of public unions currently working with long-expired contracts.

After the committee hearing, Clerkin said that the city is currently in contract negotiations with the police union, the AFSCME Local 3144 supervisors union, the Local 1303-464 attorneys union, and the nurses union. He also said that the city and the Local 424 Public Works union are currently in binding arbitration over their contract.

Local 3144’s most recent contract expired in June 2015, and the police, attorneys, and public works unions’ most recent contracts each expired in June 2016.

3% In Year One

According to Clerkin’s presentation and a letter submitted to the alders by lawyer Floyd Dugas of Berchem, Moses, and Devlin PC, a local law firm that the city has contracted with to conduct union negotiations in the continued absence of a permanent labor relations director, the financial highlights of the new agreement with Local 844 include modest wage increases and increased medical benefit contributions by employees.

The union membership will receive an across-the-board wage increase of 3 percent for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, 2 percent for FY 2018, 2.25 percent for FY 2019, and 2.5 percent for FY 2020. The city anticipates that these salary raises will represent a cumulative increase of $2.5 million for the General Funds budget and $1.1 million for the special funds budget by the end of the contract term.

The city seeks to counterbalance the impact of a portion of those salary increases through higher employee contributions for retiree and medical benefits.

Employee contributions for retiree benefits will increase by .50 percent in FY 2018, .75 percent in FY 2019, and 1.25 percent in FY 2020.

Similarly, the employee share of medical contributions for three of the four available coverage plans will increase between 3-5 percent above current levels over the course of the contract term.

To encourage adoption of the health care plan with the highest deductibles ($2,000 for individuals, $4,000 for families), the city has lowered the cost share for that plan from the current rate of 11 percent to 9 percent for FY 2018, and has promised to cover 65 percent of the deductible in FY 2018 and 50% of the deductible thereafter.

The contract also includes a health incentive plan that rewards measures taken towards preventive care, and penalizes those who do not participate in preventive and chronic condition care programs.

The city anticipates saving over $1.2 million in medical coverage costs and over $400,000 in retirement benefits costs by the end of the contract term.

Rather than take a vote, the alders discharged the proposed contract to the full Board of Alders, which meets next on July 5. That way, instead of conducting a “first reading” of the bill but waiting until a following meeting to actually vote on it, the full board will be able to debate and vote on the contract at that July 5 meting.

Labor Relations Director Finally Found?

At Thursday night’s hearing, Annex Alder Al Paolillo, Jr. asked Clerkin about the status of the city’s labor relations director. The position, which now falls under the Corporation Counsel’s department, has been vacant since Mayor Harp fired then-Director Marcus Paca in April 2016.

“I understand that a final candidate has been identified, and that the city will be able to make that hire sooner rather than later,” Clerkin responded. He said that the mayor and the corporation counsel have been taking the lead in interviewing and narrowing down candidates, and estimated that someone will be in the role later this summer.

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posted by: Noteworthy on June 16, 2017  12:43pm

Reject the contract. The city has no money. The savings are dubious. Why is the city paying the employee’s deductible?

The fire the law firm. What goals did the law firm have in going into these negotiations? Who told the law firm what to ask for? And how did the final result benchmark to that wish list? Were there any goals? This like the contracts before it are richer than can be afforded.

posted by: robn on June 19, 2017  8:05am

Its worth mentioning that The American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees (the same union that has an effective stranglehold in Hartford) is currenty credited with leading Illinois to bankruptcy; firstly by making decades worth of sweetheart deals, and secondly by not backing off during current negotiations in which even the Teamsters and other heavy hitters cut some deals to work it out.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 19, 2017  8:13pm

posted by: robn on June 19, 2017 8:05am

Its worth mentioning that The American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees (the same union that has an effective stranglehold in Hartford) is currenty credited with leading Illinois to bankruptcy;

Not true. I have family in Illinois and they work in the private sector.They told me Illinois has been run by the insiders for the benefit of the insiders for decades, and all on the backs of the tax payers. Illinois, the most politically corrupt state in the country. The said there is a there is a 11 Billion dollar shortfall in the pension because of the Under funding of the pension fund by the state.Public Sector workers contributed 5% out of salary which was essentially matched by the state under fund there part by balancing budgets with borrowed money year after year.Blame the state.

My Bad I forgot. There is a bit of a problem. There is no provision in bankruptcy law for states to file for bankruptcy. Local governments are covered, but not states from what I heard.I could be wrong.

posted by: Inside 165 on June 19, 2017  11:25pm

Harp should be recalled from office. As she bangs her fist on the table demanding more money from the state of Connecticut she hands out millions of dollars in salaries, this union, public works, teacher administrators, etc. to secure her re-election. Meanwhile up at the state the unions reopened their contracts and gave up hundreds of millions of dollars in pension and healthcare concessions on top of 0%0%0% for the next three years in wage increases. What the state should do is reduce its funding to New Haven because obviously the city doesn’t need it. All you people better open your eyes and contact the zombies on the board of Alders and tell them to vote NO. This City is amassing so much debt it’s unreal.  Harp continues to borrow money through refinancing debt and other gimmicks. She hasn’t had one balanced budget yet. She also does this without knowing what we’ll actually get from the state. A complete disregard to city taxpayers.

Although most of our Alders don’t even understand our budget never the less how any department functions they should all vote against this. Any vote for it is a slap in our face.

BTW even when they had a labor director they hired Dugas to negotiate. Let’s see if that changes when the new Labor Director comes to town. Although given the shape bridgeports in I wouldn’t hold my breath.

posted by: robn on June 20, 2017  6:25am


In the 1840s, many US states got into deep financial trouble because they had spent too much money on canals (that had a short life because of the emergence of railroads) or had invested in railroads haphazardly. Congress refused to bail them out and effectively rendered them unable to cancel their debts. So technically, they cannot seek bankruptcy protection which is a legal mechanism for recognizing and restructuring debt (bankruptcy also has a function of putting a check on aggressive bond issuers who know they could possibly lose their shirt if they loan to irresponsible entities). But effectively, states can run out of money and borrowing power, meaning that their only way out of debt is cutting existing spending to the bone (which, as we’ve seen in Kansas, can have a remarkeable downward drag on the economy.)