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City Still Needs Union Concessions To Balance Budget

By Jeff Cohen

August 29, 2012

The current budget of the city of Hartford is a tight one, and it includes a million dollars in labor concessions that haven't yet been agreed to. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, Mayor Pedro Segarra has offered either furlough days or layoffs.

This year's budget for the city of Hartford was one of the toughest in memory, as the mayor had to close a projected $50 million deficit. To get there, the city approved $1 million in savings from labor unions. But by the time the budget went into effect in July, those concessions hadn't yet been found.

Mayor Segarra has offered five city unions this -- three furlough days per employee per union, or, as one union has said, layoffs. The offer does not apply to public safety unions. Segarra's staff has said he'd like to avoid layoffs if possible.

Each union was apparently to vote on the offer from the mayor. The deadline to get back to the city was Aug. 17. At least one union has rejected the offer. The Hartford Municipal Employees Association voted it down a few weeks ago. It's a union for supervisors. Efforts to reach the union again were unsuccessful. Another union, AFSCME Local 1716, says it didn't vote because it is in a larger contract negotiation with the city.

Larry Deutsch is the minority leader of the city council from the Working Families Party. He says he'd like another option -- one that doesn't mean laying off front line employees in the Department of Public Works.

"Absolutely, there should be no layoffs. Those who are most at risk of layoffs at this moment are the temporary employees in DPW -- is my understanding -- who in normal circumstances having worked there for months or even a year would then be acquired as permanent employees. Those would be the first to be laid off."

Although the deadline passed nearly two weeks ago, Deutsch says he hasn't gotten any communication from Segarra on the status of the concessions talks. In an email from the mayor's office, the city says it will have an update on the negotiations by Friday.

Reprinted with permission of Jeff Cohen, author of the blog Capital Region Report. To view other stories on this topic, search Capital Region Report at http://capitalregionreport.wordpress.com/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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