Conn. city firefighters union defers raises to help taxpayers

The deferment of raises will save the district some $270,000 over the next two years


Pam McLoughlin
New Haven Register, Conn.

WEST HAVEN — In a move West Shore Fire Department Commission Chairman Robert Bruneau called “phenomenal” and “unheard of,” the firefighters union in that district unanimously agreed to defer a contractual raise for two years to ease the burden on taxpayers.

“I think it’s big,” Bruneau said. “I think they want to do what’s best for the district. I think it’s unheard of, it’s phenomenal we were able to open the contract” and come to an agreement.

The deferment of raises will save the district some $270,000 over the two years, Bruneau said. There will be a proposed tax rate increase of quarter-mill, but that would have been about double if not for the deferment, officials said.

Lt. Chris Haley, union representative for the West Shore Professional Firefighters, said the team agrees — they want to ease the burden to taxpayers.

This year the budget is tough, Haley said, because the state changed the way pensions are being funded. Bruneau said state contributions to municipal fire districts have decreased in other areas, as well.

“It’s no secret there’s financial hardship in the city — we want to lessen our impact,” Haley said. He said the decision to defer the raises was unanimous among the 28 union members.

Haley said the firefighters contract called for a 1.75 percent raise in the upcoming fiscal year. Instead, for the next two years they will not receive a raise. Instead, they have deferred the raises until 2022. The contract was set to expire in July 2020.

“It’s never easy to agree to that, but at the end of the day we have to do our part,” Haley said.

West Shore Fire Chief Stephen Scafariello was thrilled with the cooperation between the district and the union, echoing the sentiments of the other men that negotiations themselves cost a lot of money.

“I’m very happy that both sides were able to put the taxpayers first for the betterment of the department,” Scafariello said. “Plus, the cost of negotiations — both parties saved a lot of money.”

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©2019 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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