In a highly critical letter sent to Mayor Ruthanne Fuller on Sept. 19, Sean M. O’Brien, the president/principal officer of the Teamsters Local Union No. 25 that is bargaining on behalf of 180 city employees, lamented the lack of a contract and what he called Newton’s “obnoxious attitude toward its DPW workers.”
The 180 people in the bargaining unit include workers in the Department of Public Works, Parks and Recreation, the Building Department, and others.
Waltham resident Robert McClary, a synthetic turf specialist who has been with Newton Parks and Recreation Department for 11 years, said he feels disappointed and frustrated with the negotiations. According to O’Brien, they have been working without a contract for about 2½ years.
“You sort of feel underappreciated” with no contract, said McClary.
He and O’Brien said there are several sticking points and concessions the city’s bargaining team is asking of the workers. McClary said they have been negotiating with the city since January, all to no avail.
“We haven’t agreed on one thing,” he said.
Of most concern is a possible increase in the cost of co-pays. McClary also said that while historically they have received a 2 ½-3 percent salary increase, they were presented with an offer of 1-1½ percent increases over the three-year contract.
If the city’s concessions were accepted, McClary said, “People would be making less money today than they did previously.”
O’Brien stated in his letter to the mayor that the concessions “would result in financial ruin for your employees. Yet, your negotiators continue to insist on this path of economic destruction to the welfare of your employees.”
Unable to comment on O’Brien’s statements since she is not allowed to discuss details of collective bargaining, the mayor said, “We take all their concerns seriously. … We are committed to our DPW workers.”
McClary said although he is disappointed thus far, he hoped that all parties could return to the negotiating table and start talks again.
“We look forward to negotiating a contract that is satisfactory to all of us,” said Fuller.