By THOMAS FRANK
Journal-Bulletin Staff Writer
Thursday July 18, 1991
A union representing city workers has agreed
to a one-year contract that provides no pay raises and guarantees
no layoffs, shutdowns, furloughs or cutbacks through June 30,
But the contract, signed yesterday by Mayor
Vincent A. Cianci Jr. and leaders of Laborers' International Local
1033, says that if any other city union receives a wage increase
this year, Local 1033 is entitled to get the same increase or
it can terminate the contract and reopen negotiations.
The city is in negotiations with the police
union, whose contract expired June 30. It has not yet begun formal
talks with the teachers union, whose contract expires Aug. 31.
The contract with Local 1033 comes as the
City Council is pressing Cianci to obtain concessions from unions
that will bring long-term savings.
The 1991-92 city budget contains no money
for pay raises and includes a $625,000 revenue item called "union
cooperation," representing what Cianci is hoping to get back
from the firefighters union, whose contract gives members a 4
percent raise this year.
"I think an example has been set,"
Cianci said moments before signing the contract at a news conference
in his office. "Frankly, I don't know where we would have
gotten the money for a wage increase."
Arthur E. Coia, the union's general secretary
treasurer emeritus, said he was pleased with the guarantee against
layoffs, shutdowns, furloughs and cutbacks - a sentiment echoed
by many union members when they found out about the agreement
as they were leaving work yesterday afternoon.
"Hey, as long as you've got a job,"
said Kathy Murphy, an appraiser in the assessor's office. "Half
a cake is better than none."
Workers had expected to get no raise and
seemed relieved that there are no cuts, particularly because about
600 state workers have been laid off this year and most state
unions took a 10 percent pay cut for the fiscal year that began
"It sounds good to me," said another
worker who asked not to be named. "We can go without (a raise)
for one year. I'd expect one next year if the economy is better.
If not, you just got to go along."
The contract covers about 800 workers in
departments such as public works, planning, buildings and administration.
Salaries for white-collar workers range from $16,031 per year
for a first-year clerk to $46,711 per year for the chief radio
engineer. Salaries for blue-collar workers range from $9.85 per
hour for custodians to $16.38 per hour for supervisors.
Although the contract provides no salary
increase, many workers will earn more money because the contract
establishes five pay levels, or steps, for most jobs and workers
jump one step for every year they complete. In addition, workers
receive longevity pay ranging from 5 percent of their annual salary
for those who have been with the city between 5 and 10 years and
8 percent for those with 20 years of service or more.
Cianci said he did hot seek to lay off workers
because he wants to maintain city services and because he felt
that after the city paid for unemployment benefits and legal fees,
there would be little savings.
While Cianci had said in recent weeks he
was unlikely to get any major concession other than persuading
the unions to forgo a pay increase, he also had said he hoped
for minor changes, such as withholding retirement health benefits
from newly hired workers. The contract signed yesterday maintains
Blue Cross coverage for all retirees.
"We had to make a decision whether or
not to risk going to arbitration," Cianci said. "Frankly,
the union was prepared to give in on wages but not on health."
The new contract adds a provision that says
the city and the state Public Employees' Health Services Fund
will jointly develop an employee health program aimed at cutting
In addition to medical and dental coverage,
the contract contains the following other benefits:
* An extra 25 cents per hour for employees
who start work before 7 a.m. or after 11:30 a.m.
* Thirteen paid holidays a year, plus Election
Day on even-numbered years.
* A retirement bonus equivalent to one-quarter
of an employee's unused sick days accumulated since January 1986,
to a maximum of 135 days.
* A contribution of about $425,000 a year
by the city to a union legal fund.
Contents copyright 1982 to 1998 by
The Providence Journal Co.