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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Igliozzi Issues Status Update on Firefighter Contract

In response to public concerns regarding the City’s financial outlook and uncertainty surrounding the City’s proposed contract with the Providence Firefighters’ Union (Local 799), Finance Committee Chairman John Igliozzi today issued the following update:

“The administration has submitted a four-page document to the City Council that alleges savings in its precedent-setting request for a five-year contract with the Firefighters’ union, but has yet to submit a fiscal note or any substantive financial documents to support its claim that this deal will benefit Providence taxpayers. It would be financially irresponsible for the committee to begin vetting this proposal before the administration provides the Council and the public with full disclosure of the proposal’s financial impact.

“Under state law, a five-year contract is only available to municipalities with pension systems in critical status. The City of Providence’s pension system is currently 74% unfunded with an unfunded liability of almost $1 billion; by seeking this legal provision, the administration implicitly acknowledges that the city’s pension system is in crisis. The state law implies that municipalities utilizing this provision should include pension reform in their extended contracts. Despite the alarming status of Providence’s pension system, the administration has not presented any evidence that pension reform is included in this proposal. By refusing to leverage state law to improve the city’s pension problem, the administration is foreclosing on a critical opportunity to address one of the city’s biggest fiscal challenges.

“The next contract the City of Providence enters with the firefighters’ union will set the tone for future contract negotiations for many years. The people of Providence have yet to see this administration take meaningful action to mitigate the city’s critical financial challenges. This will require sound leadership and clear judgement; the administration must remove politics from the decision-making process and provide a comprehensive plan for reform to ensure better financial footing in the years ahead.

“Once the administration provides the public and the City Council with the full disclosure needed to properly vet its proposal, the Finance Committee will consider the proposed contract in earnest, open discourse.”