Union Contracts on Rizzo’s Short List: Less Controversial Than Previous Couple of Years

Less controversial than previous couple of years

The Rizzo Administration and two key municipal unions have already met in the new mayor’s first month in office.

The Revere Firefighters Union and the Revere Teacher’s Association (RTA) met within the last week with Mayor Dan Rizzo and members of his administration or with the School Committee (which he is now chair of) to get an overview of contract discussions. After more than 12 years of negotiating with former Mayor Tom Ambrosino on the City side and as chair of the School Committee, city unions will face a new chief executive in Rizzo, and perhaps a totally different style as well.

The Firefighters have been out of a contract for more than a year, and will lead the way for the rest of the city’s public safety unions this time – including the police and Department of Public Works. Typically, one union leads the way, and whatever they negotiate is offered to the others.

“We have the privilege of being up first on this one,” said Firefighter’s President Guy Landry. “We did endorse [Rizzo] so we did already know him. We met already and talked about long-term goals and an overview/update of where we are at…Our expectations are really just having a seat at the table now. He’s a straight shooter and we like that.”

The RTA said that they met with the School Committee (which is now chaired by Rizzo) and Superintendent Paul Dakin on Tuesday, and that it was the first meeting in their contract negotiation process.

While the teachers do work with the city’s other municipal unions, they typically strike somewhat different deals than the rest of the unions – as they don’t directly negotiate with City government.

RTA Present Susan Lanza said that she expects contract work to be a seamless transition.

“The RTA is confident that we will bring the same collegial and mutual respect to these negotiations that we have brought to past initiatives,” said Lanza. “This, hopefully, will result in an agreement that will continue the Revere Public Schools ‘tradition of excellence’.”

In further comments, Lanza said they would not be willing to concede any more furlough days, as they have over the last three years.

“That’s our first proposal, that there be no further furlough days,” said Lanza. “We won’t tolerate any more. We’ve given them six over the past three years. No more. No more.”

Both groups agreed that this time around figures to be much less contentious than the previous two contracts, when budget cutting was at the forefront and tough decisions had to be made.

The RTA has taken furlough days the last three years, as discussed above.

In 2009, the Police Patrolmen’s Union squared off with Ambrosino on a contract issue and chose to lose officers from the contingent rather than fold to key concessions involving pay.

Meanwhile, all of the unions inked an agreement in 2011 to make major changes to the City’s health insurance – taking on changes that included bearing an additional 5 percent of costs. That concession plan saves the City about $700,000 per year.

Landry said he didn’t expect any sweeping reforms in this year’s negotiations.

“I don’t expect anything big right now,” he said. “Hopefully, this will be a more typical contract. There’s nothing major on the table like health insurance last year.”

Lanza agreed, saying they’ve had enough of the heated talks.

“We don’t expect anything big at all,” she said. “Really, we have a good contract. We’re looking to get this done in a month with no controversy…I don’t anticipate any problems.”

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