HARTFORD — — One of the largest city employee unions has approved a new labor agreement that calls for a 9 percent pay raise over four years and for furlough days.
The union's deal with the city runs from July 1, 2011, when its previous contract expired, through June 30, 2015.
The union — Local 1716 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 4 — includes about 330 full-time city employees and 100 part-time employees.
Union spokesman Larry Dorman said that about 140 members turned up for the ratification vote Thursday. He declined to give the vote total, but said that members were "strongly in favor of the contract."
"It's a reasonable deal in a tough economic climate," Dorman said Thursday. "There was give and take and compromise on both sides. It protects the services our members provide and it keeps people working in very difficult times. I think people are pretty happy."
"I think it was pretty fair, given what's happening in the city of Hartford," union President Clarke King said. "It's something we can live with."
Union members will receive a 1 ½ percent pay increase in 2012, a 2 ½ percent increase in 2013, a 3 percent raise in 2014 and a 2 percent raise between January and June of 2015, according to the agreement.
Members, however, are required as part of the agreement to take two furlough days by June 30, 2013. In exchange, Mayor Pedro Segarra has agreed not to lay off any members of the union from the time the agreement is signed until June 30, 2013.
The city had asked that the union take three furlough days during the 2012-13 fiscal year, but both sides eventually agreed on two days, King said.
Segarra last week laid off 14 city employees, mostly from middle management, to help balance the city's 2012-13 budget, which was adopted in May. He had been counting on $1 million in union concessions that apparently did not materialize.
The mayor also eliminated five vacant city positions.
Union member Mark Bibbins, who works for the city as a data input clerk, said that despite the raise, he felt discouraged because the mayor had handed out larger pay increases to other employees. Bibbins said he has worked for the city since 2007.
"It's kind of demoralizing that a person who's been here for two years gets a $20,000 raise and we're getting a 9 percent raise over the next four years," Bibbins said, referring to a raise that Segarra gave to his chief of staff, Jared Kupiec, early this year. Segarra has defended Kupiec's pay increase, saying that he had earned it.
Council 4 of Local 1716 had been in negotiations with the city for more than a year. The two sides reached a tentative agreement earlier this month.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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