ARBITRATION RESULTS IN NEW CONTRACT FOR LOCAL 71
Contract Preserves Worker Benefits While Providing Savings for the City
New Haven, CT) A CT Department of Labor Board of Medication and Arbitration panel has issued its decision on outstanding contractual issues between the City of New Haven and Local 71 (UE Local 222, CILU/CIPU) after negotiations between the parties reached impasse.
The arbitration award brings the pension and medical benefits of Local 71 in line with other recently settled union contracts. In addition to providing raises, the contract preserves pension and medical benefits for employees but also places limits on those benefits that will result in immediate and long-term savings for the City.
“This contract, resulting from the arbitration panel’s decision, strikes the delicate balance between ensuring fairness for employees and for taxpayers, bringing employee benefits more in line with what the City can afford,” noted Mayor John DeStefano, Jr.
The arbitration award puts into place a pension system that is tiered, similar to the plans negotiated recently with other City Employee Retirement Fund (CERF) groups. The plan makes more changes to those employees with less seniority. For instance, the contract stipulates that Local 71 employees who have less than ten years of services as of July 1, 2010 will not have overtime used in the calculation of their pension benefits and, in order to be eligible for a pension, must be at least 62 years old and attain the Rule of 85 (years of service plus age). Other important provisions are cited below:
• The penalty for early retirement has been increased to 3.5% per year for those hired after July 1, 2013.
• Buy back of unused sick leave for pension credit eliminated for those hired after 11-8-13
• The cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase for employees with less than less than 20 years of service as of July 1, 2010 will be lowered to 2% annually and capped at 20% over a lifetime.
Additionally, the arbitration decision puts into place the same medical plans that other municipal employee unions have recently agreed to, with a choice of plans that includes a high deductible health plan with premium cost sharing options ranging from 9% for the high deductible plan to 21.25%. Important changes were also made to retirement medical benefits. Employees with less than 10 years of service as of July 1, 2010 will have retiree medical coverage for only themselves and not for a spouse. New hires will not be eligible for retiree medical benefits.
Other changes to the contract include:
• The elimination of meal allowance payments.
• Elimination of longevity pay for new employees.
The contract was referred to the State arbitration panel earlier this year when, after over three years of negotiation, Local 71 and the City where unable to come to agreement.
The arbitration awarded contract covers fiscal years 2010/2011 through 2014/2015 and will provide no raises for the first two years of the contract and then will provide raises of 3%, 2% and 2%. There is no retro-activity for back wages accrued in fiscal years 2012/2013 or 2013/2014.
The City will save approximately $70,000 over the remaining year and one half of the contract.
Local 71 includes workers across several City departments such as Parks caretakers, Police mechanics and Parks tree trimmers.
The Board of Mediation and Arbitration decision has been submitted to the Board of Aldermen for its review. Pursuant to the Municipal Employee Relations Act the Board may reject the decision with a 2/3 vote of the body within 25 days of the City’s receipt of the decision. In the absence of a rejection, the award shall be binding.