Today State Rep and AFSCME member Andrew O'Hearne and Jim Durkin (AFSCME Representative) went on the WNTK morning show to talk about the new radio ad highlighting the situation of the workers in Claremont, NH. Here is the AFSCME Council 93 ad that is running on WNTK.Here is the 12 minute interview on WNTK this on 8-22-13Below is a letter sent to the NH Labor News detailing the struggles that public workers in Claremont are facing right now. Thank You Linda for sending us this great local story.
Claremont Workers: Six Years Without A Raise Or A Contract.
By Linda Horan
Claremont City workers have been without a contract and a raise for more than six years. An independent fact finder for the DPW and Police reviewed the bargaining proposal. After careful and thorough examination, he issued a report that called for a 3% pay increase, certainly modest, especially after going without for so long.The Union agreed with the fact finders report, the City turned it down cold. They want to keep denying pay raises-and losing veteran, experienced workers-until the workers cave in. That's not going to happen!
What's next? That's up to the members! But make no mistake, they will not quietly accept whatever crumbs the City drops on the ground. We'll be working with community supporters and other Unions who are concerned about the city and quality public services. The police who continue to serve and protect have already lost seven officers to better paying departments. the DPW in the trenches in all kinds of weather are also understaffed for the same reason. The Fire Department, who have also submitted a reasonable, modest proposal have been ignored by the city manager. They are anxiously awaiting their own neutral fact finder's report. The Fire Service has lost at least 3 firefighters because of stagnant wages and low morale.
Claremont is not a wealthy city, the Unions understand that, so they are trying to be pragmatic and not have not been asking for a big bag of money. At the same time, City Manager Guy Santagate decided to give raises to department heads, some in excess of 6%, saying "these raises are needed as many in the city are underpaid. This is so we don't lose key solid people." Finance Director Mary Walter saw her pay rise from $80,103 to $85,176. Ms Walter said publicly that to accept the fact finder's report the City would be forced to lay off 12-20 workers. The Fire and Police chiefs saw their base pay rise somewhere around $10,000 each. When asked how many would be laid off as a result of these exorbitant raises for the bosses, she reluctantly replied "none". Interesting.
Obviously to Mr Santagate, this thinking does not trickle down to the folks actually doing the work.This is not only imprudent, it is shameful. It demonstrates a complete lack of respect, a slap in the face of those who risk their lives on a daily basis for the residents of Claremont with little thought for their personal circumstance. They continue helping and protecting Claremont's citizenry everyday. It is time for the City Manager Santagate to do whatever is necessary to retain the City's skilled competent workforce. As City Manager he has an obligation both to the residents and to the workers to do just that.
We'd like Mr Santagate and the City Council to understand that this is far from over. Activity will continue until the City goes back to the table and effectively bargains in good faith with City Unions.They all understand the City finances and are not asking for pie in the sky. All they want is for the City to respect it's workforce enough to invest in them as well as it has invested in the the bosses.
We are asking for Union folks to help us keep the pressure on. Letters to Mr Santagate and the City Council (care of Claremont City Hall, Claremont, NH 03743) will help, Phone calls to Mr Santagate (603 542 7002) will help as well. Coming out to join us for visibility and informational pickets will help. Packing the City Council meetings with interested audience members will help. Letters to the editor of the Claremont Eagle times will help. With your soidarity this will not be swept under the rug at City Hall. Hopefully activity will escalate, Maybe with your help, we can have a show of force by rally or and/or press conferences. Bottom line: We're Union, we're proven and we will hang tough! With your help and solidarity, brothers and sisters, we can make a difference and hopefully the City will hear our one united voice!
For more information please contact chapter chair and State Rep Andrew O'Hearne AFSCME (603 558 1038), Brian Rapp IAFF (603 393 9651) or me, Linda Horan VP NH AFL CIO, retired (603 762 1331)