I don't get it.
Fall River is facing a dire budget situation. State aid is being cut and the city has limited means to raise any revenue on its own.
So the city is forced to tighten its belt. You would think this would mean that our city leaders would be looking for ways to reduce spending, eliminate waste, and save money. At least you would hope right?
Instead the first thing we've heard about is "8%". In order for the city to balance the budget without laying off more city employees the Mayor says all city employees need to take an 8% pay cut. They also need to make some concessions with their health insurance. The last time Bob tried this, oh just a few months ago, only one union decided to come negotiate and most of the rest saw drastic layoffs.
This time around we can't afford to layoff more people, more police, fire, teachers, administrators, DPW workers. We can't afford to reduce services. We can't afford to have more of our citizens out of work.
So I'm glad to see one union step up to the plate and work with the Mayor. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has agreed to an 8% cut. This will provide the savings the city needs and make sure our city employees keep their jobs. The problem I have is this isn't an 8% cut in salary. Instead the 8% cut was achieved by reducing hours.
I guess whatever allows you to reach your goal, but an 8% reduction in hours is an 8% cut in productivity! To reach this 8% members of the AFSCM will work 32 hours a week instead of 35, but now they will get a paid 1/2 lunch meaning they are really only working 29 1/2 hours a week. City services are going to be impacted by the loss of almost 6 man hours a week per employee. Hey, great job by the union in negotiating a favorable deal for their members but how is this good for Fall River?
What happens if these workers now end up working overtime to make up for the lack of man hours? There goes any savings! How will this affect other negotiations? Why would other unions take a cut in wages when they can bargain for less hours and paid lunches?
Lefty's View: It's great to see the a union step up and work with the city, and it's great to see the city willing to compromise to make a deal happen. The problem is this deal cuts city services and sets a bad precedent that may make future negotiations difficult.