Mayor negotiates new agreement with New London firefighters

New London — The City Council will meet tonight to review and possibly vote on a new tentative agreement with the firefighters' union, which the mayor says will save the jobs of 25 firefighters scheduled to be laid off next week.

The council, which is set to meet at 5:30 tonight at City Hall, will meet in executive session with representatives from the law director's and Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio's offices. The second agenda item calls for a council vote on the new agreement.

Finizio said that after further negotiations, a new tentative agreement was signed Monday, has been approved by the fire union and now awaits council approval.

"Hopefully, the tentative agreement will be ratified," Finizio said. "I will make a statement at City Hall after the meeting about layoffs or the agreement."

Finizio declined to discuss or release specifics about the new agreement but said he would release the document after tonight's council meeting.

City Councilors Marie Friess-McSparran, Adam Sprecace and John Maynard voted against the previous agreement, citing its impact on taxpayers. Council President Michael Passero, who is a New London firefighter, has recused himself from discussing and voting on the contract.

The original agreement failed twice, by a 3-3 tally. A majority is needed to pass.

"I'm one vote and they only need one vote," Sprecace said Wednesday. "There are two other councilors who have concerns as well, and I'm not sure if the new agreement is satisfying me or satisfying them, that remains to be seen. I hope there's some change in the (tentative agreement) that can get my or another councilor's support."

Finizio said Wednesday that the firefighters' union came to the city with a new proposal sometime after the council last met July 16, during which the council tabled a vote on the original agreement, which would have rescinded the layoff notices given to 25 firefighters in April and allowed union members to enroll in the state retirement plan.

After that meeting, Finizio announced that the layoffs would take effect the next afternoon. But the union filed for a court injunction and Finizio delayed the layoffs until Monday, when the court has scheduled a hearing. The council also is scheduled to meet that night.

Firefighters union President Rocco Basilica said Wednesday that the union has "continued to negotiate with the city" but would not comment further.

The original agreement called for about $1 million in concessions this year. The union agreed to give up nine positions and two raises that were scheduled for 2012, and to reduce mandatory staffing levels from 18 to 16.

In return, the city would not lay off any firefighters during the remainder of Finizio's four-year term and would bond around $4 million to offset the $14 million the firefighters would need to buy into the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement System.

Staff Writer Jeffrey A. Johnson contributed to this story.


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