April 23, 2009

City, unions talk concessions, keep smiling

Emerging from a small meeting room after more than 90 minutes of closed-door discussions Thursday about possible concessions, both city and municipal union leaders were smiling.
Tom Bentivengo, a firefighter, called it “a very good meeting, very productive.”
Though no decisions were reached – and apparently no concrete measures were even put on the table – city leaders said they’re happy that union officials are willing to discuss possible change to existing contracts that might save taxpayers’ money.
Mayor Art Ward said that after the union officials have a chance to talk with their rank-and-file during the next week or so, more sessions will be held that will go into more depth about possible courses of action.
As an opening step, Ward and several city officials met with leaders of municipal unions to lay out the budget situation and explain why there’s a $1.8 million gap that needs to be covered by concessions or layoffs, unless unanticipated revenue arrives.
Without concessions, the city is eyeing as many as 30 layoffs to trim its costs, but Board of Finance and elected officials say they don't want to put anyone on the unemployment line if they can help it.
They also say, however, that they plan to freeze property taxes, which eliminates one source of securing the needed money to fund the expected budget.
The city plans to adopt its annual budget on June 4, assuming a legal change is approved next week to push back the budget adoption deadline.
Ward said that gives the city a few weeks to talk with each of its unions and see what, if anything, can be worked out.
Though participants didn’t want to talk about what they said behind closed doors, somebody left behind their notes.
One question, clearly written by a union official, asked, “When the economy improves, are you going to replace what you want from us now?”
That’s something Ward is sure to hear, if he didn’t hear it Thursday. The answer is one of many unknowns surrounding the talks.
Some cities around the state have laid off or furloughed workers. Some municipal unions in other communities have agreed to wage freezes and other measures that have helped stave off layoffs.
It isn’t clear what will happen in Bristol, but it was obvious after the initial meeting that both union and city officials are keen to cooperate.
“It’s pretty open right now,” Ward said.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see just how many games are played with this budget.

Kloko has a good thing going for him with Ward, and wouldn't want to lose it!

To bad no one is really watching the hen house.

Anonymous said...

The city needs to start furloughs, or close city hall one day week. The burden should not be put on the tax payer.

Anonymous said...

Artie will get outnegotiated again!!

But it won't be reported, because noone is playing watchdog!

Anonymous said...

I find it astonishing that a reader of this blog would say nobody is playing watchdog. Not only is Steve performing that role so are we! I give him and the Bristol Press credit for allowing us this forum to amplify, clarify and justify our takes on what happens at city hall.
I don't understand why Steve takes so much abuse from other readers who can see on this blog day after day how much he does.

try said...

such positive suggestions, not, when everyone is trying to adjust to the times with the taxpayers in mind. can't any of you buffoons give it a chance? At least the city and the unions are trying, how 'bout you?

Anonymous said...

Steve ain't playing watch dog, he is working as a reporter!

I mean someone digging in and questioning, especially on the information that is not readily made available in Ward's releases and phone calls.

Why wasn't the fact that a full time position hasn't been filled in almost a year? Who has been doingthe work, if anybody?

Do we really need it?

How does that, and the many other positions that Ward is dragging his feet on affect the current and next years budget?

What is the status on CLP?
What is the status on GASB?

Both big dollar items!

Where are ALL the Councilmen on these and other issues?

Anonymous said...

7:14, Looks like your crystal ball is cracked.

Anonymous said...

"Why wasn't the fact that a full time position hasn't been filled in almost a year?"

Not sure which specific position your talking about but if a position hasn't been filled for a year then the City has saved money for that year and will probably cut the position which will achieve further savings. Therefore, it's a fiscally prudent move by the Mayor so what are you whining about?

Anonymous said...

4:40 PM - you right! The union and city are not doing enough! Its never enough for them thats the problem. With GMAC and Chrysler about to fall this will be a huge wake up call to all unions! Where are the other ideas from city hall on how to cut cost? How about turning off some city street lights? Maybe using less trucks and cars on the roads?

Anonymous said...


Veterans Service Officer, and Ward claims it will take him until Sept to rewrite the job description and then FILL the position.

Wonder who will become available at about that time?

A year to rewrite a job description???

And who has been doing the work in the interim?

Anonymous said...

Didnt the firefighters contract go to arbitration?

If they lay off any firefighters wouldnt that just cost the city more in OT to fill those spots?

Anonymous said...

Hope that we are told as to what the city is GIVING, as well as getting.

No sense to get a little now and pay more later.

Anonymous said...

How come Ward waited til now to start meeting with the unions?

position said...

3:32 - sniffle

git 'er done said...

3:27 - no "cents" in being self-centered either when we know how much this process will contribute to keeping jobs and helping the taxpayers through these times.

hmmmmmmmm said...

3:32, maybe we don't even need that veteran position, we could save money and benefits.

Anonymous said...


The concessions that Ward will give to the unions are costs to the taxpayer, forever.

Why aren't the unions concerned f0r the taxpayer, long term?

VA supporter said...

3:32 - I only met Mr. Ward when he was working with the VA out of the old unemployment office on South Street but he kept working for me and got me my hearing disability from the VA, which had been wrongly denied for a long time.
I know that he will only do what's right for all veterans and he has all of my support.

Anonymous said...

How about having union officials meet on their own time instead of while they are being paid by tax payer dollars. Now that would be a concession! We're paying them to meet on city time - and what was accomplished?

Anonymous said...


Since when is the city of Bristol supposed to provide (guarantee) employment for all?

People want it run like a business, or at least business like.

It is bad enough that politicians hire their their friends, let alone keep them when they are not needed.

And we are suposed to pay for this ineptness?

Anonymous said...

10:13 AM,

Don't you have a job or something? Your negative rhetoric is redundant and pointless. You post CONSTANTLY, and it's always the same tired, antagonistic, unaffirmative, unenlightened drivel.

And you think some of our politicians are inept??? LOL!

Anonymous said...


And you my friend sound like a city employee and Ward sychopant!

Anonymous said...


As usual -

Wrong (definitely not your friend). Wrong (not a city employee) and oops, big surprise here, wrong in general because there's no such thing as a sychopant. (It's actually a sycophant and nope, wrong again).

Once again more of your typical posting style...no facts, all conjecture, assumptions and mostly unadulterated bullsh@#t!

Anonymous said...

Not surprising the unions are smiling. They are negotiating with one of their own.

rub-a-dub, dub said...

piss-s you off 8:05, doesn't it poopsie? want a wittle wine with your cheesy attitude cuddles? pampers to the rescue chit head.

Anonymous said...


Yes it does, because it is costing me money!!!

Anonymous said...

Are they still meeting?

Any results?

What is next?