Leaders of most of Hartford’s municipal unions say they want to work together to negotiate their health benefits. This comes as the city is trying to get more than $15 million in concessions from its workers.
Representatives of six unions said at a press conference that they want to bargain as a group with the goal of saving the city money and preserving benefits.
“It will help save the city on administrative fees as well as costs,” said Rich Holton is the president of Hartford’s police union.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin has said the city’s financial situation is dire, with structural deficits that only grow in the years to come. The city’s budget that begins July 1 proposes $15.5 million in savings from union negotiations. City unions have said they could come up with somewhere between $8 million to $12 million, but Holton scoffed at the idea of over $15 million.
“We’ll do the best that we can,” Holton said. “We can’t strip our members of every benefit they have just to appease the mayor in some arbitrary number he throws out in his budget.”
Bronin said the announcement was a positive step — one he asked the unions to take months ago.
“It makes a lot more sense for a city to be able to rationalize its health plans and negotiate with all the unions together for one health care plan design and I’m glad that they decided to bargain as a coalition,” Bronin said.
Now, the job will be to negotiate a plan that actually saves money. Bronin hoped to come up with savings before July 1, but that now seems unlikely and the city will begin the year not knowing how it will close its $15.5 million budget hole.