Just in time to ruin my day, reader and Greenwich resident Lucia Jansen sends along the following:
…I sit on the RTM on the Budget Overview Committee and created this analysis of an upcoming Greenwich firefighter contract to be voted Monday night at the RTM. Like pigs going to slaughter the RTM Finance and Labor Contracts committees voted to support the contract—with the same tired, party line “because we can’t win in arbitration.” The finance committee vote was 10-1-0…one member wasn’t there (Erf Porter, II) but surely he would be supporting the contract as he always does. The Labor Contracts committee (with Joan) was 5-0-0.
Anyway, I thought you would enjoy reading the analysis. The spreadsheet was done recently with the numbers plugged in with the deal Tesei and Caldwell negotiated. Please note, that in the Explano’s to the RTM Tesei was clever and didn’t put in the full pension cost, but only the “normal” cost and excluded the unfunded liability…..as if the taxpayer isn’t on the hook for it all. My spreadsheet shows the true cost of the contract—an increase of 14.60% costing the taxpayer over 3 years $48,851,218. Note, the pension cost increase of 64.99% over a mere 3 years.
Read it and weep.
31 responses to “Greenwich Firemens’ union contract: brace yourself, Bridget”
Links aren’t working.
Hmm – they were – I’ll see what I can do
Hmm again – they still work for me, but maybe that’s unique because they are Google docs emailed to me? Don’t know.
Generous state you have up there
Fire them all and privatize.
Here it is, FF’s first chance to demonstrate things will be different under his puppet regime. Fire away FF, what would you do different?
Advice for FF….
Run anyone but Krumeich.
I’ll read it and comment thoughtfully. As far as Democrat, Beth is her own woman, I can attest to that, and will be an intelligent and productive First Selectman. She won’t sugarcoat a thing, unlike the issue we are discussing now
Your kidding right ?
Please confirm or deny?
Beth Krumeich was the Democrats fourth choice.
I think the more apt description is “no choice”. No one would run, they asked Stephanie “Lay Back and Enjoy It” Palomino to put her name on the ballot while they ran an ad on Craig’s list and, after that search failed, Stephanie decided she rather liked being candidate after all so she’d just stay on, thank you.
That triggered the now infamous Democrat smear campaign against the party’s own standard bearer and although she resigned, as late as the afternoon of the Democrat Campaign Kick-Off keg party she was refusing to remove her name from the ballot unless her party found someone, anyone at all, to replace her. Desperate times call for desperate measures,so Farricker and Blankley scurried around looking for a candidate. The lifeguards were all going back to college this fall, the pretty blonde at the concession stand was too young to vote and her pet Labrador was a Republican. With the clock ticking down, Francis and the Blank raced back to the keg party with the intention of drafting four-time loser Ed Krumeich one last time. “Where’s Ed?” a frantic Fudrucker blurted to Beth.”We need him, now!”
“He went over to the other end of the beach,” Beth said, “we ran out of his favorite hot dogs over here.”
“Say, ah, listen Beth”, Furucker stammered, “you don’t happen to be a registered Democrat by any chance, do you?”
“I can be if you really, really want me to be”, Beth said, “but I’ve got my eye on a new slipcover for our divan, and it looks awfully pricey”.
And that’s the way it was, Sunday, September 8th, 2013, in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.
Still working on this? Did you see below, Ridgefield went to 401k’s for new hire police. Why cant Gwich? Frankly, we could afford to give a substantial bump in starting pay if we go to 401k becuase the true lifetime cost of the defined benefit plan is so outrageous.
I credit and thank Lucia for bringing this to the attention of us ( the Greenwich taxpayer.) Tesei should consult Lucia for advice.
The full pension cost estimate was left out. Thank you Lucia Jansen.
Jansen is right about this contract being too rich. The problem here is that under existing state law, and the stack of the arbitration panels, if the Town goes to arbitration, it will only get worse.
There are only two ways to successfully deal with the contracts: 1) change state law to do away with mandatory arbitration or 2) simply refuse to appropriate the money required to fund a contract above the level the Town wanted to pay.
The first won’t happen anytime soon, or, likely, even in any of our lifetimes.
The second won’t happen because it would mean service cuts as employees were eliminated to bring the cost down to the appropriation.
We’re f**ked on these union contracts. We should negotiate harder, but given the people who run the Town, and the unions, I am not convinced we can do more that slow the train. We’ve made some improvements and some progress away from defined benefit plans, but not enough.
Everyone rightly complains the settlements are over-generous and commit the Town to spending far too much, but no one is willing to take the service cuts that would be necessary to really rein in spending.
The simplest solution that comes to mind is to rescind the rule against booze in the firehouses. The volunteers would come back to their clubhouse, we could lose some paid firefighters through attrition and save some bucks. You’ll question whether drunks and fire fighting go well together, perhaps, but let me remind you that we had a deputy chief who was drunk on the job for thirty years and who is now our emergency management director, yet the town hasn’t burned down.
If the Town could employ decent asset fund management, the retirement system would not be in the trouble it is today. As Wall St booms, these funds bleed principal. Looking at those funds one would never know there was a bull market 2003-137% funded. 2013-70% funded
Bottom line. The taxpayer is responsible for 100 million dollar loss.
I’ll take the service cuts, bring them on!
Forty-nine mil, eh? Is that with or w/o King St fiefdom?
I thank Lucia for her work as well. I sat on RTM Finance for 2 very long years. The presentation of these budgets by the town is normally incomprehensible. Instead of presenting actual numbers most things are portrayed as % increases. The town, and RTM Labor Contract Committee it would seem, have a great aversion to cardinal numbers, everything is an ordinal number.
You have to really ask to get real numbers. I loved voting a town contract with increases for our fine employees (and that is not being sarcastic) in the fall of 2008 when I was facing the possible annihilation of my entire industry (yes I am in involved in investments like many in these parts). We voted St Joan back on the Labor Committee though I never knew why.
It was promised to us that the new regime under Labor Contracts would be one of sunshine and transparency. What a surprise, that has yet to come.
It is always entertaining to go back and listen to the promises the leadership of the RTM made last time around and realize they promised the same stuff and delivered nothing.
The RTM is irrelevant at this point. Anyone who wants to secure change in Greenwich long ago realized they need to work with the BET and the Selectmen. Anyone who is interested in public office in Greenwich most likely isn’t on the RTM. I will say, the RTM does provide some entertainment value.
The Fire Department labor contracts by far the worst.
Thank you Lucia. Your efforts do not go unnoticed.
Why did you break the tie vote for MISA in favor of more spending?
And why did you do that after all of the other GOP BET members voted no to the additional spending?
Lucia Jansen did good. All the RTM is good for is rubber stamping as evident by the Labor Contracts and Finance Committees votes without a true discussion of what is going on. As for the fear of arbitration, it is ridiculous not to send contracts because we “know” we will loose the vote. We may loose on some points but can win on a few and we need to start somewhere. You never know for sure if you don’t try. Also, why is it defined contribution works for all Town departments except fire and police? Time to take a stand! Whoops, what am I talking about? To quote you Chris, the Republicans spend and the Democrats spend even more.
Great link to BLS report on the cost of private sector comp versus state and local government comp. Once upon a time there was a trade off working for government between lower wages and higher benefits….. no longer; both wage and benefit costs for state and local employees outstrips the private sector by a hefty margin.
We are bargaining ourselves into insolvency
How can I get on the gravy train? I’m paying for it I might as well benefit from it.
In a prior discussion I wrote about how some of us, when I was on the RTM, tried to simply abstain from voting on a contract so that the next time we did go to arbitration we wouldn’t be on record for supporting a contract that had x y and z. Baby steps towards tougher negotiating but steps nonetheless.
After remaining mum during a long, collegial and in depth discussion of this matter in a smaller committee meeting. The chairwoman of labor contracts, since the dawn of time, went ballistic during a full RTM meeting and called us all a “bunch of chickens” if we contemplated our more nuanced but perhaps (slightly) helpful strategy.
Same unions, same arbitration, same state…..different Town leadership.
Police get 2% annual increases; rookies will start for less
By Macklin K. Reid on April 15, 2013 in Government, Latest Local News, Lead News, Police and Fire • 0 Comments
A new contract gives Ridgefield police officers salary increases ranging from 1.5% to 2.25% over five years.
The contract, which is retroactive to July 1, 2012, gives officers raises of:
• 1.5% for the current 2012-13 year;
• 2% for 2013-14;
• 2% for 2014-15;
• 2.25% for 2015-16;
• 2.25% for 2016-17.
“If you average it out, it’s 2% a year,” said Ridgefield Police Union President Chris Daly. “The raises are below what we’ve had in prior contracts, and we think a lot of this has to do with the economy, obviously.”
First Selectman Rudy Marconi had a similar view.
“The union would have liked to get higher raises — we all would. It seems to be across the board today, but unfortunately the economy isn’t agreeing with us,” he said.
“As is the case in any contract, did you get everything you wanted? No. Did you make improvements to the contract? Yes,” Mr. Marconi said. “I think the union feels the same way.”
The contract covers 38 police officers — all uniformed except the top two, the major and the chief. The 38 officers budgeted for a base salary of $3,093,000 this year, a figure which includes the current year’s 1.5% raise, according to town Personnel Director Laurie Scholl.
The salary line with all officers included along with items such as longevity compensation, holiday pay, overtime etc. is close to $3,776,000 for the current year and $3,924,000 in the 2013-14 budget.
The annual salary range for officers employed at the start of the new contract would be $58,610 for a basic patrol officer to $107,748 for a veteran captain at maximum level.
Over the five years the basic patrol officer’s pay would grow from $58,610 this year to $63,753 in 2016-17.
The maximum captain’s pay would go from $107,748 this year to $117,202 in 2016-17.
The contract introduces a new salary level, a starting patrol officer’s pay level of $55,819 for the first year, which is actually below the $57,744 a year that a starting patrol office made in the last year of the old agreement.
While no officer employed at the start of the contract would see a decline — they’d all see raises — future new recruits would start lower and make less their first year than new hires were making in the last year of the old contract.
“It used to be five years to top pay. Now it’s six years.” said Officer Daly, the union president.
The old five-step range for a basic patrol officer was $57,744 at step one to $80,586 at level five in the last year of the old contract. The new runs $55,819 at level one to $81,795 a year at step six.
The addition of the new lower starting salary will allow the town to save money on new hires, without hurting the pay of any current officers.
“I’m negotiating for the guys who are here,” Officer Daly said.
In the new contract, Mr. Marconi said, the town had made some progress in controlling benefits costs for the police, including health insurance and retirement costs.
There are three areas, he said, where the town will reap substantial savings:
First is “full replacement” of the previous “point of service” (POS) health plan with a more efficient “health savings account” or “HSA” plan. “Everybody, 100%. There’s no option for the POS,” Mr. Marconi said.
Town Personnel Director Laurie Scholl said the town’s saving on health insurance were projected to be about $200,000 over the contract’s final four years. (Because it was signed in the middle of this year the new health plans don’t go into effect until the new fiscal year starts in July.
Second, a pension plan will no longer be offered to new hires, although current officers can remain in the plan they have. Instead, new officers will have a 401(k) retirement plan, to which the town will make contributions.
“We’re going to a 401(k) going forward with all new hires,” Mr. Marconi said.
This move from a “defined benefit” to a “defined contribution” plan is regarded as a major improvement from the town’s perspective. Although the town will be contributing to each employee’s 401(k), that is a controlled cost that ends when the employee retires. The “defined benefit” plan is regarded more as a open-ended commitment to support retired employees for an undefined period — as many years as they live.
The third cost saving — again, to be felt as future savings — is a reduction in “other post-employment benefits,” mainly health care costs for retirees.
The union was motivated to agree to the plan in part by a desire not to go through the lengthy and uncertain arbitration process — a period when officers would continue to be paid at the old rate.
“By agreeing to the contract it keeps us out of arbitration, too,” Officer Daly said.
“It’s always the case of unknowns. We felt pretty confident if it did go to arbitration, but arbitration can be a few years until it’s gets done.”
An interesting aspect of the agreement is a $20,000 bonus for employees who retire between the recent contract signing and the end of the current year, Dec. 31, 2013. It’s money for the retiring officer, but could also reduce costs to the town by inducing retirements sooner rather than later.
“If there are some people looking to retire, it gets them out of the department. It’s a big savings for the town,” Officer Daly said.
In the contract’s first year a veteran patrolman would make $81,795. Two levels of sergeants make $84,004 and 85,372. Lieutenants make $89,104 and $93,011. Three levels of captains make $97,074, $102,268, and $107,748.
If any of them retire, other veteran officers would likely move up filling vacancies in a chain reaction, leaving a vacancy at the bottom. The retired officer would, in effect, be replaced with a new hire at the patrol officer’s starting level of $55,819.
So, even with $20,000 bonus, the town would be saving money on the differential between the retiring officer in the $82,000 to $108,000 range, and the new hire at $55,000.
Officer Daly said that the union had concerns about the move to 401(k) retirement plans.
“It’s also going to create an issue for being able to attract qualified employees, keep qualified employees,” he said.
“That’s what attracts people to civil service, a pension…
“If it’s a 401(k). That’s portable. They can leave here and it goes with them,” he said. “The pension, unless he or she is here for 10 years, they don’t receive a pension.”
Mr. Marconi had a different view of retirement issue.
“They do have a pension plan, it’s just different,” he said. “The employee is responsible for his own plan and the municipality is no longer guaranteeing a benefit at the end of the employment.”
Officer Daly said he worried this would induce officers to stay in very demanding jobs for too many years.
“I think down the road you’re going to see officers with the 401(k) working to 60, 65,” he said. “And that’s well past what they should be doing, for what we have to do, the physical requirements of the job.”
read the last paragraph…makes me laugh…the physical requirements of the job…they are all huge and out of shape (well not all of them) what’s he talking about?
Congratulations to Ridgefield for bringing sanity to the world of town employment by ending defined benefit for new hires and starting the 401k.
FF; are you still working on your contract review and draft town budget? We’ve all heard about how the Republicans have failed us, now let’s get to the bottom of how the Democrats could do it better. My guess; its all bullshit about your desire to bring change to our labor contracts and your only real plan is to outspend the Republicans and lever up the town balance sheet.
Yikes. Maybe they can build a new fire station under the MISA Orchestra pit.