Council needs more time to approve firemen’s contract

It was almost a case of one more contract negotiated and out of the way Tuesday, however, a majority of council members felt more time was needed for final approval.

The Firemen’s Local 616 contract expired at the end of 2016. Mayor Willie Rosas explained he and his team were able to come to an agreement on the contract with union representatives and union members ratified it before the Common Council meeting.

However, due to a recent change in the attorney’s office the contract was not prefiled before the meeting. Council members voiced concerns that in the past they have been given copies of the contracts prior to the meeting. Attorney Richard Morrisroe explained that has been done in the past as a courtesy, but is not required in order to vote on a resolution to approve the contract.

He said he would be able to answer any questions council members had in an executive session. However, a majority was not satisfied with the information they attained during the 35-minute executive session.

“Normally when we’re given a contract, we’re given a financial impact statement that shows us the pros and cons with the financials and the effects on the budget. So, moving forward we needed to have that. It was explained to us, but we needed to be able to reference what we were looking at and there were unforeseen circumstances that prevented that statement from being created for us. So, it was just a timing issue. Hopefully when we have our next meeting, we’ll have that given to us or emailed to us at that time,” Fourth Ward Councilwoman Stacy Szukala said.

Szukala along with First Ward Councilman Don Williams Jr. and Councilman-at-Large Andy Woloszyn voted for tabling the walk-in resolution. Third Ward Councilman Adelino Gonzalez and Second Ward Councilman Marty Bamonto voted against tabling it.

“I was happy with everything that was presented during the meeting and I was ready to move forward with it,” Bamonto explained.

Rosas said he could not get into specifics about the contract, since without council’s approval it is still under negotiation, however, he feels it is fair to all.

“I’m a little bit disappointed that council did not take action on it today. In my opinion I think it’s a very fair contract for the city taxpayers as well as the firefighters’ union. We’ve worked very hard to come to an agreement and had it been prefiled, the whole process would have been exactly the same. So I don’t believe the issue was it was a walk-in, I think the issue was they needed more time to absorb it, but I remain hopeful that once they have a chance to look at it and digest it that they will agree that it is a very fair contract for both the city taxpayers and the firefighters’ union,” he said.

If approved, this will be the third of the city’s four unions to be current on their contracts. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees AFL-CIO Local 912 contract was approved in December and the Police Benevolent Association’s contract was approved in May. The Steel Worker’s 2693 is still in negotiations.