New Haven, Connecticut, like so many other cities, is contending with public union contracts in the face of declining tax revenues. As a result, as is happening throughout the country, the mayor of New Haven is trying to re-negotiate those contracts. The public employee unions don’t like that.
On Tuesday, members of the AFSCME and UNITE-HERE stormed New Haven’s City Hall to protest. Here is the video (story below):
“We want a fair contract!” city workers called up to Mayor John DeStefano’s window.
The mayor’s reply: Maintaining workers’ current benefits will “bankrupt taxpayers.”
That argument became public Tuesday, as at least 250 union workers stormed City Hall for a face-to-face confrontation with the mayor. The workers marched to the Green from the High School in the Community, shouted chants outside DeStefano’s window, then met him for a chaotic conversation from the banister overlooking the main staircase from the first to second floors of City Hall.
At issue is the city’s quest for cutbacks in health and pension benefits in new labor contracts. Declaring that a “ruthless” City Hall has a awakened a “sleeping giant,” union leaders decried what they called bad faith in negotiations and vowed not to force working families to give back in tough times. The mayor said the city can no longer afford to offer some benefits far superior to those in the private sector, at least not without raising taxes.
In the past five years, rising health care and pension costs amounted to a $36 million increase in the city budget, which was about 40 percent of the budget increase during those years, according to the mayor’s office.
The costs keep going up, the mayor said, and are leaving the city hurtling toward an $82 million budget hole in five years, according to one draft report.
The mayor said the city’s health care and pension plans are “far more generous” than the private sector.
It is curious to think that union bosses are actually puzzled about why they no longer have public support.
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