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January 23, 2013

City workers agree to settle contracts

NEWBURYPORT — City officials have reached agreement on contracts with five union bargaining units, and these pacts have gone to the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, which is scheduled to meet Monday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the matter.

The unions represent 187 city workers.

Two unions representing department heads and a variety of city workers in the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees agreed to a three-year deal granting 2 percent raises effective Jan. 1, an increase July 1 of 1.5 percent and another increase in July 2014 of 1.5 percent.

Three unions — representing administrative assistants, police superiors and firefighters — agreed to settle “wage reopener” agreements in their current contracts. The administrative assistants agreed to a 1.5 percent increase, and the others to 2 percent, all effective Jan. 1 of this year.

As a result of new figures, Mayor Donna Holaday has asked councilors to transfer $132,393 “to cover cost of living allowances, step increases, overtime impacts and grade adjustments that have resulted from the agreed-upon terms of this negotiation progress.”

The request to fund these wage changes is viewed as a routine administrative function, city officials say.

In a recent message to city councilors, Holaday said, “It is important to note that city employees received a 2 percent in cumulative cost-of-living-allowances (COLA) over the past three fiscal years (Fiscal years 2010-2012).

“During the same period of time, Newburyport school employees have received 5 percent in COLA increases. According to Bureau of Labor statistics, the cost of living for this region increased 4.5 percent over this time frame.”

Municipal leaders say the city has six unions (of full-time workers). Five of the six union contracts required “wage considerations” for the current fiscal year.

The police patrolmen union has a three-year contract that expires June 30, 2014. It calls for a 1 percent COLA for FY13 that was effective July 1, 2012.

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