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DPW Union and NRFS Executive Board Vote "No" on Raise Deferral, NRFD Rank and File Voting Coming Soon

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DPW Union and NRFS Executive Board Vote "No" on Raise Deferral, NRFD Rank and File Voting Coming Soon

December 31, 2009 - 14:36
6 comments

Local 663 (DPW) voted yesterday by 10-20 vote margin to take their contractual raises. As a result three Community Service Officers are now terminated by the City of New Rochelle.

Meanwhile, the NRFD rank & file will vote over the next two days on a proposed raise deferral. The executive board of the NRFD voted down the deferral but a full vote is required. The current status of the terminated firefighters was unclear but their firings were to be effective this week.

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Both executive boards of these unions voted down the deferrals. Let's ask why?
It would seem to me that any enlightened union would caress the notion of brotherhood and collegiality during these times of woe and economic hardship. What does voting NO mean? First and foremost a handful of workers will lose their job; their immediate family is harmed by loss of significant income and possible loss of health benefits etc. Some may lose their place to live and children will be negatively impacted in many ways. This is not what being a union is all about. It should not be about greed or watching out for #1. Foregoing a raise for this upcoming year would have resulted in no one losing their job; no one having their pay cut - in other words things would have remained the same. Surely an employee making $70k or $85K could have continue to survive for another year without the 3% raise? This act by the executive board obviously shows an indifference to all working class folks and an arrogance that is stupifying. When confronted again with deferrals and layoffs again who will be there to speak for you who just voted the way you did? Some unions have agreed to forego raises for one year in order to save jobs. These people are worthy and honorable. Are you?

Dumb move to re-open a signed contract, precedent has been set and the city will cry uncle more frequently to eke out concessions.
Kudo's to 663 for standing pat, and also for the PBA to seek arbitration. The only ones who'll be holding the bag is L273, giving up long term gain for short term pain relief. What do you think is going to happen at the end of 2010? More threats, and putting the onus on the unions when it belongs on the city for mismangement and/or malfeasance.

Today is a sad day for Local 663. It was not just the Executive Board who voted and decided. It was the entire membership. Its very easy to blame them for the outcome, but really the City is at fault. For years the City has crushed the moral of the union. This City has chopped away at Local 663. They are constantly cutting positions or simply never filling the vacancies. Over the years the City has made many false promises to them and they just don't trust the City. The City refused to put the proposal in writing to show good faith making the membership very leery. Every time you turn around its only 663. Their membership is down to 148 employees, 36 of them work for the New Rochelle Police Dept. Local 663 is a very unique union. You have a combination of Department of Public Works employees and Police Department employees(CSOs). Two very different types of work. How the Csos combined with public works? It was said that years ago the Police Officers union didn't want the CSOs. These two very different sets of employees make it very hard for situations like this. Its tuff to negotiate a contract because their needs are totally different and both groups don't have an understanding of each others jobs. The City of New Rochelle has miss-managed the funds for years and now not only do the Unions have to suffer but the residents do too. Two of the Csos laid off were 911 operators/dispatchers. Now just about every day 2-3 Police officer have to be taken of the streets from protecting you to fill the positions of Csos in the Communications Room. Vacancies already exist in Communications because of the hiring freeze so its not just 1 shift that the Officers are used to cover. Commissioner Carroll should be ashamed of himself. Instead of backing his employees he chose to take vacation. He didn't even have the decency to tell his employees face to face that they were losing their jobs. Instead of fighting for them he sent them a letter by certified mail..that basically said You're Fired! Thank you to Commissioner Jeff Coleman of the Department of Public works. Although there is very little that he can do..he does realize how important his employees are. On his own without the City telling him to, he gave back his city vehicle and no longer uses it for personal use unlike other city officials. Its just a small token..but it shows you that at least one City Official has a heart!

I am a Grandson of a Union Organizer. That said it is sad to see that the Rank and File can not see the end in sight of their own existance. The Construction Unions in NYC are done, limited to only a small section of buildings as more and more projects go non-union.
I believe the time will come when Union Members of Police, Fire and others will become a thing of the past. In most cases they support a mentality that will no longer get supported by Johnny Q Taxpayer. By trying to dig in and protect rules and regulations that promote less work and promote mediocraty they are going to seal their own fate. Maybe the guys on the jobs today won't feel it but you can be sure Pensions will go away or at least the stockpiling of overtime will go away to increase that pension will. A benefits package that bankrupts the municipal coffers during bad times and thusly the tax payers won't make it in the future. I see privatization of Fire Departments down the road. I see Union Free School Districts. I see Police sharing and private sanitation and DPW as the norm if the Rank and File do not get in line with reality. Yes I am sure I will get the standard of living speech and the low pay speech, but I can say Rank and File Chose their route of employment vs the private sector. It may not happen in my lifetime but the Party has begun to end for Municipal Unions as the golden goose must die.
Kudos to New Rochelle Fire Union members for keeping their 6 on the job. Both my parents were Cival Servants my dad still gets his NYPD pension for more than 45 years now so I support the guys on the job. The balance is out of wack it can't keep up. New Rochelle is fighting to stay alive so much of the costs are Salary's they all must give the Unions and the City Managers the Tax Payers have nothing left.

I'd like to know the work rules for FF's that lead to abuse, can you tell me?
Riding 3 men on a rig when the NFPA says a minimum of 4 men should be on every rig?
Ya think FF's don't respond to calls on their lunch times?
Do they refuse to remove some mangled up crash victim from a car, who's unrecognizable?
What work rules do you refer to?

I am very supportive of unions who are in contractual arrangements with the City of New Rochelle. I believe any local, though, that refuses to set a precedent and agrees to allow city to pink slip members for that purpose is making a mistake if the rationale is "not to set a precedent." the point is 663 and others are not setting a precedent, the city is and my advice is to go along with keeping their folks on the payroll and begin immediately to undertake a collective unions action to thwart this precedence through whatever legal means necessary. I do believe that a collection of brotherhoods throughout the Greater New York area would align to a situation where one part of an agreement sees fit to essentially violate that agreement by such actions. This is not the time for emotion, it is not the time for putting people on the street out of work, it is the time for collective, corrective action and I do believe that with proper lawyering, there is more than hope.

yes, the firefighers are somewhat of a different story as what is proposed puts the city at physical risk; other matters such as staffing levels and the availability of public grants (Safty is one) have been conventially lowkeyed or disregarded.

There is also a l of misinformation on the street in terms of exactly what the situation is and we see it in Public Notices, press releasese and other media. I have personally spoken to rank and file members and they don't seem to have the full information or impact of their decision. The best source I know is the Sound Report specifically Vol 9/49 dated December 18. It can be accessed by the internet and reporter Greg Maker and editor Dan Gabel have done a good job in laying out the situation properly and Peggy Godfrey in a prior article in the Westchsster Herald enlghtened us about a Q/A held in the VFW Post on North Avenue. Let me highlight some aspects of the Sound Report article.

1. the six notices sent out were "unofficial notices". They do not have the rule of law; meaning they were statements of intent to dismiss, not notices to dismiss. While important, it still was a bush move by the city who, as with the other locals still have plenty of options.

2. Kurt Colucci of the Westchester Taxpayers Association wrote a letter to the Editor in the December 31 issue of the Westchester Guardian. He indicates, among many points, that New Rochelle has 147 city employees who earned more than $100,000 in 2009. Chuck Strome and Noam Bramson alone, accounted for close to $275,000 without benefits. You can add another 25-30% or so on top of that. You cannot tell me that: (1( there are no scheduled merit increases for 2010 for this population, (2) all of the position are necessary to sustain the city or (3) modest salary cuts could not be taken to fund the increases for the locals in question.

3. Greg Maker indicates that all deferred salary increases for firefighters will be granted at time of retirement -- presumably with interest and calculated into the final retirement benefit. Little comfort, though, if you are trying to make ends meet.

Given the above and much more, I feel that

1. All unions should preserve the jobs of their brothers and sisters.
2. Union leaders need to understand the importance of that and precisely what "setting a precedent really means." If you don't, you will face the same issue year after year.

3. The time is long past for unions to collaborate and understand that they have more going for them than it may seem. I would urge union leaders to have any attorney resources contact the headquarters' attorneys and research the law and, if it is not helpful to settled collective bargaining agreements, use the power of the community to back you with State lawmakers to effect change.

4. I truly believe they will. I still remember Chuck Strome's boast that "no one has yet taken him up on looking at the budget and offering suggestions. I have just made one or two myself --- cut all merit incrases and bonuses for exempt staff, reduce headcount in non-essential positions, and satisfy the requirements of the Safty Grant which, unless I am having another senior moment, Peggy Godfrey reported on with her usual skill and attention to detail.

I have heard a lot of people claim that the administration is crooked, dishonest, etc..... I don't know if that is the case or not. What I do know is that this is a good fight -- whether pro labor or not as it has to do with keeping ones commitments and word. We should all be up for that.

This man Colucci, seems like a solid, albeit angry citizen and who can blame him. Lets get behind him and, by the way, an open note to Ron St Paul. I believe the firefighter's union supported you during the last election when few knew who you were or where you came from. As minority party head of the city council, you should respect that and step forward and support the ten or so people who are at risk.

happy new year to all

warren gross

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