Thursday, April 23, 2009

Baker Implements Plans to Layoff Wilmington Firefighters

WILMINGTON, DE (April 23, 2009) -- Unions representing Wilmington employees are unwilling to make any additional wage concessions, and have rejected Mayor Baker's request to freeze wage increases for fiscal year 2010. Today Mayor James Baker responded by telling administrative personnel to identify personnel in 3 unions who will be laid off. His goal is 75 pink slips.

For the city Fire Department, which just recently began operating at its authorized strength, the loss of jobs, combined with members who are on extended sick leave (one with cancer) and a huge drop in overtime, most certainly will result in company closings. And I did use the plural.

These layoffs will come quickly, without city council's yea or nay. First to go will be the 8 members of WFD's 35th recruit class, who have only been on the job for a little over a month. One of those recruits, Ffr. Cameron Dorsey (Class President) saw very little action as he was seriosuly burned during a rescue and firefight on Adams Street.

I'm not planning to spend a great deal of time writing a response, because my last report was determined by fire management to be misleading and untrue. Unfortunately, today's events make my initial analysis far more conservative than what will now take place.


City Begins Process of Laying Off Unionized Employees After Union Presidents Reject Mayor’s Plan to Preserve Jobs and Benefits in FY 2010

Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker today directed Chief of Staff William Montgomery to begin the process of identifying and then notifying as many as 75 unionized City employees that they will be laid-off in the FY 2010 fiscal year beginning July 1.

The Mayor said he has now regrettably been forced to plan for lay-offs because the Presidents of AFSCME Locals 320, 1102, 1102B, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #1 and International Association of Firefighters Local 1590 have rejected his request that the City’s union employees forego salary and step increases next fiscal year while maintaining their current jobs, salaries and benefits.

The Mayor and the Presidents of the unions were scheduled to meet on Tuesday, April 21, to discuss his request. Instead, the Presidents sent a letter to the Mayor dated April 17 cancelling the meeting and rejecting his plan to preserve the jobs and benefits of all City employees in exchange for the elimination FY 2010 salary and step increases.

Mayor Baker said even though the City will move forward now with layoffs of union employees, he remains ready and willing to further discuss with the union leaders the consequences of their decision.

When the Mayor presented his Fiscal Year 2010 Operating Budget to City Council in March, he announced that the City is struggling to close an estimated $20 million deficit.

To close the gap in anticipated revenue versus expenditures, the Mayor cut $15 million in proposed or planned City spending and requested $7.2 million in new taxes and fees for City residents and businesses. He also proposed no layoffs for City employees, but said all employees must forego salary and step pay increases equaling $2.5 million.

“It is not fair to ask taxpayers, who are already stressed in the current economic climate, for more money to operate the government; nor is it fair to ask our Department Directors to operate their units next year with severely reduced budgets across the board, only to have our City’s union leadership refuse to share in the sacrifices we all have to make to get the City out of a deep fiscal hole,” said Mayor Baker.

The Mayor said he will still move forward with part of his deficit-reduction decision by eliminating all salary and step increases for FY 2010 for non-union City employees. The Mayor said as a result, no non-union City employee will be laid-off.

Mayor Baker said it is unfortunate that the leaders of the City’s unions have forced his hand when it comes to laying off their members.

Via John Rago
Director of Communications and Policy Development
City of Wilmington

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