November 19th, 2013 | City

New contract for city park workers

Following a three-year impasse in negotiations, city parks employees are finally getting a new contract.

Under the agreement, reached by an independent panel and approved Monday night by the Board of Aldermen, blue collar city employees engaged in tree-trimming, bridge repair and other maintenance work in the city’s parks will get a pay raise, but new hires will not receive medical benefits following their retirement. The contract negotiations went to arbitration earlier this year when the city and Local 71 — part of the independent union UE Local 222 CILU/CIPU — were unable to strike a deal after three years of back and forth.

The agreement brings the union’s pension and medical benefits in line with equivalent city labor contracts, City Hall Spokesperson Anna Mariotti said in a Tuesday press release. She said the city will save roughly $70,000 over the remaining year and a half of the existing contract.

All in all, the panel ruled on 34 separate issues. Major decisions include the establishment of a tiered pension system that will affect the calculation of benefits for newer employees, protections of subcontracting and vacations and changes to the allotment of sick leave and meal allowance payments.

“New hires will not be eligible for retiree medical benefits,” the contract agreement reads.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said in Tuesday’s release that the arbitration panel’s decision is fair to both city employees and taxpayers accountable for city expenditures. He said the agreement brings employee benefits “more in line with what the city can afford.”

Local 71 President Dominic Magliochetti told the New Haven Independent that his union had done relatively well, particularly compared to other public sector unions. He said he would have liked to have seen a greater wage bump.

“We’re the lowest-paid local in the city,” Magliochetti said. “We’re blue-collar workers. We’re out in the elements day in and day out.”

Local 71 covers 63 city workers.