New York State makes it very difficult for elected officials to win concessions from labor unions. Despite this, a trio of local residents running for re-election overcame this hurdle twice to begin the financial turnaround of our city and the preservation of essential services such as law enforcement.
In 2012, then-colleagues on the city council Reggie Spinello and Michael Famiglietti negotiated a contract with the PBA that will save $300,000 per new police hire over eight years. In 2014 Mayor Spinello along with councilmen Famiglietti and Joe Capobianco negotiated a CSEA contract that won concessions such as contributions to health benefits and reduced step increases.
Those involved remarked at how much homework Spinello had done to prepare for the negotiations. Famiglietti says “both unions recognized the financial issues and that to continue with the status quo would be unsustainable.” Lest readers expect strife as a result, both are supporting the incumbent this election.
Tony Gallo and Flip Pidot say they want to “slow the growth” of spending as if the numbers in the budget are arbitrary. Gallo challenged other councilmen to investigate why spending on items are up. It’s as if they don’t understand that the city’s largest cost-drivers are labor and associated benefits. And these numbers aren’t determined on a whim and they’re not indexed to inflation, they’re governed by contracts.
Tony Gallo has been on the city council since January 2012 and did not take the initiative to get involved in contract negotiations. Spinello, Capobianco and Famiglietti did so twice.
Gallo and Pidot still have not shared what they would do with the labor contracts. Maybe they will continue to talk about budgets as if they’re arbitrary and not influenced by contracts. They comment on the Waterfront from a similar perspective. Dancing with default on that development agreement could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
At least through consistency we can know what to expect.