GOVERNMENT

Warwick City Council approves union contracts

BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/SCOTT EELLS
MONDAY EVENING, the Warwick City Council unanimously approved three contracts with the city’s municipal employee, police and firefighters’ unions.
Posted 7/10/12

WARWICK – Monday evening, the Warwick City Council unanimously approved three contracts with the city’s municipal employee, police and firefighters’ unions.

Prior to the City Council vote, members of Local 1651 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee had approved the three-year contract on Friday.

The International Association of Fire Fighters Union, Local 2748, voted on and approved its contact on Friday, June 22, and the Fraternal Order of Police Union, Lodge 7, voted on Friday, June 29.

The municipal employee agreement – like the agreements reached with the city’s police and firefighters’ unions – contain no wage increases and double employee health care contributions.

“Our municipal employees, like our public safety employees, realize the very difficult economic circumstances facing our city and state,” Mayor Scott Avedisian said in a statement.

“I thank them for their continued commitment to our community and for their willingness to make sacrifices to help our taxpayers,” added Avedisian.

According to Avedisian, the contract, which is effective from July 1 through June 30, 2015, is expected to reduce the municipal employee pension system’s unfunded liability by roughly $2 million.

All told, city officials expect the three union contracts to reduce Warwick’s unfunded pension liability by $32 million.

The police and firefighters’ contracts provide no pay raises, increase employee health care contributions and provide for combined additional cost savings of more than $900,000.

Because cost of living allowances for pensioners in the Police/Fire I plan are based on raises given to current employees, keeping pay levels at existing rates for the next three years will reduce the unfunded liability for that plan by $22 million, according to Avedisian.

The Police/Fire I pension plan is the only plan deemed “critical” by state standards.

Savings for the Police II and Fire II pension systems will amount to roughly $4 million over the life of the contracts, for a combined total public safety pension savings of $30 million, according to the release.

The contracts with the police and fire unions call for changes in sick time as well as long-term leave policies and make changes in the overall operations of the departments.

City council unanimously passed all three contracts on Monday night’s meeting in a nine to zero vote.

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