City, Firefighters dispute contract

On January 18, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

The City of Somerville and firefighters' union, Local 76, are hoping to resolve their longstanding dispute in the near future.

$4.3 million in back pay could lead to layoffs

By Andrew Firestone

A contract dispute between the city and the firefighters’ union, Local 76 to the tune of $4.3 million is set to go before the public today and tomorrow, with a final hearing before the Board of Aldermen financial matters committee on January 30. The dispute, which goes back to 2007, is whether or not to award the firefighters four successive pay raises, amounting to about 13 percent.

The city has said that the proposed pay raise, which was mandated by the State Joint Labor Management Council in December, will ravage its current employment. 31 layoffs, 18 positions left vacant, and the West Somerville library being shuttered is the cost.

While the city does have $2.4 million set aside in their contingency fund, the cuts to services will amount to around $1.15 million. 10 firefighters will be laid off, six will be demoted to lower pay grades, and seven police positions will be left vacant, along with five positions in the SFD.

While the city attempted to file a lawsuit against the SFD, Middlesex Superior Court, under the watch of Judge Thomas Murtagh, said that the state arbitration, which was initiated in 2010, is fair regarding the city’s ability to pay. Now, the Board of Aldermen must discuss where the money will come from, and how it will affect city services.

$346,182 of budgetary matters would also be delayed.

While Judge Murtagh declined to make a ruling at this time, Union head Jay Colbert has offered to defer payment until next year to stave off layoffs.



13 Responses to “City, Firefighters dispute contract”

  1. Brandi P says:

    The Somerville News hates the Somerville Fire Dept so much it posts an article about them and links a picture of two Boston FF’s. Isnt there a Tauro birthday you need to blog about? Now we know why your paper is free…. Nobody would buy it !

  2. Ron Newman says:

    Closing the West Branch library is a terrible idea. The city should delay paying this settlement until all of the Green Line stations are open, bringing development and tax dollars to fund it.

  3. hammer 77 says:

    First of all its a 12% raise over 5 years not 4 years .Second the city has the abilit to pay without layoffs but is trying its best to paint a picture of greedy firemen trying to bankrupt the city. The SFD union has already agreed to defer 1.9 miliion dollars till July of 2013 to avoid layoffs and thr city is still willing to go ahead with layoffs to prove a point cause they’re mad they lost the arbitration case.Also it will come out in the coming days durong these hearings that the city has an excess of 25 million in hidden accounts but they choose not to use it..

  4. j. connelly says:

    Ref to mayor & hidden millions….The mayor makes Bonnie & Clyde look like saints. The U.S. government offered cities & towns, federal $$$ to cover the salaries for I believe 5 years for each new firefighter that has hired. If the city took advantage of this program, the city had to guarantee no-layoffs & to keep the manning levels at full strength.

    Somerville’s mayor signed on to this agreement, failure to honor the agreement leads to the city having to reimburse the federal government all monies it has accepted & possible other repercussions for failing to honor the agreement….We all know of thee mayor’s continued “failure to honor agreements”….except for the developer deals he makes.

    Can you hear that noise….sounds like the U.S. Justice Dept lawyers heading to Somerville.

  5. Hillson says:

    How about laying off some of the memebers of the Board of Aldermen?
    Over the years they have reduced the size of the Police,Fire,DPW workers, etc.. We have less police and firemen, but the calls for their responses have gone through the roof.

    Go out and collect signatures to make the Board a seven member Board elected at large. Without ward aldermen the Board would have to act collectively for the city rather than have agendas for their various wards.

    The population of Somerville is down, yet they don’t cut the political positions. And why do Aldermen get the same health benefits for a part time job? They aren’t working full time like the police,the fire, etc..

    The Board should not be immune from cuts. Reducing them by 4 positions will save money from the reduced salaries and health costs. Gather the signatures and put it on the ballot.

  6. joe says:

    Hillson…..they get retirement benefits as well.

  7. susanb says:

    To Mr Newman: “Closing the West Branch library is a terrible idea. The city should delay paying this settlement until all of the Green Line stations are open, bringing development and tax dollars to fund it.”
    I won’t say I totally agree with any city raises in this economy, but why should the firefighters wait until the Green Line is built? What does one have to do with the other? Who knows if the Green Line will ever be built?

  8. Hammer77 says:

    @ Ron…. So the firemen shouldn’t get a raise until the green line comes in?? Do they’ll be waiting 12 more years without a contract but yet the aldermen and the mayor can themselves raises and to the teachers and that’s ok with you?? Don’t forget what these firefighters do on a daily basis

  9. Harry says:

    The city should declare bankruptcy and then declare all the contracts null and void. Theyn layoff 50% of the fire and policie departments — i bet things would not drop off.

  10. Let's Be Honest says:

    Declare bankruptcy and be the laughing stock of the state then layoff 50% of police and fire. Harry, think before you write dumb things. Our economy is in the pooper because of bailouts and bankruptcy. The city declaring bankruptcy and laying of 1/2 the depts only makes it worse. In a recession the federal, state, and municipal governments need to hire people to make things better not lay people off. That turns things worse. Read a book.

  11. Hillson says:

    Just when you thought he went away, Hateful Harry rears his ugly rhetoric. What a mean, jealous person he is.

  12. Boston Kate says:

    Nooooooo. Please, don’t close the West Branch Library!

  13. Harry says:

    Let’s-be-honest/Hillson, so your solution to the city being broke and floating more and more bonds (mortgaging the furture) is to spend even more money we don’t have??? How does that work? Lay out the math for me as it must be that new funky math you’re using.

    The issue is:
    1. The city spends more then it takes in and a vast majority of that is being spent in overly generous salaries/benefits/pensions to these public union layabouts who don’t even reside in the city. So….
    2. The city has to either INCREASE taxes/fees/fines to increase revenues to pay for these non-resident union layabouts or…
    3. The city needs to cut expenses (again the most wasteful spending is to the public unions). My vote is to cut expenses – the mayor should go into every department in the city and demand 50% cost reductions. However they do it is up to each department, but they need to reduce expenses by 50%. By March 1st.

    Option 4 – keep spending like a drunken sailor – is not a vialble option.

    The SN should post the salaries of city of somerville employees (and notice how many get paid > $150K a year even excluding their generous benefits/pensions) — you’ll finally realize what/where all the money goes to. Hint – lots of overtime for looking into holes in the street drinking coffee.

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