Condon asks council to delay union contract vote

Mayor-elect David Condon is still a few weeks out from taking office and he’s already making demands of the city council.

Condon sent a letter to current City Council President Joe Shogan, asking that the council not approve a new contract for the city employee’s union.

He said what they plan to do Monday night goes against a long American tradition of political fairness in having a lame-duck council and a lame-duck mayor approve a multi-million dollar contract so close to the end of their terms.

Condon said Monday that he’s heard the union went to Mayor Mary Verner directly after elections and ask that their contract be approved. She agreed, he said, which would lock Condon into the contract as he’s set to take office in January.

He said he’s not sure of the motivation behind hastily approving the union’s contract, but wants a fair shot at negotiating with Local 270.

“If it’s a good deal you know right now it’ll still be a good deal for both the city and for the employees in a couple of months. There’s other issues that you work through in negotiations as well it’s not all pay and benefits it’s working conditions, work rules and if we’re going to talk about the future of how the city operates we should be able to negotiate those with the bargaining units as we move forward,” Mayor-elect Condon said.

Condon is concerned that the contract doesn’t fit with his administration’s mission to bring this city back into financial prosperity. Without wiggle room in a city employee contract, he’d have to resort to layoffs, something he said Monday evening he doesn’t want to do.

Nobody on the current city council would comment on this story before their weekly 6 o’clock Monday meeting, but at the meeting Shogan had printed copies of an email he sent to Condon and left them for members of the media.

The email read: “The current council myself included, is being paid by the public to do our jobs thru December 31 of this year… as a consequence, I will act on the 270 contract this evening and I will urge my fellow council members to do so.”

The letter was signed with his name but Shogan continued with a P.S.: “It is my belief and practice that face-to-face conversation is the best way to communicate… you apparently do not share this philosophy. Fine with me.”

The issue of Local 270’s contract was finally addressed around 8:30 p.m. and debate continued for well over an hour. Public comment, including comment from incoming council members Steve Salvatori and Mike Fagen, swayed in Condon’s favor. Both Fagen and Salvatori signed the letter Condon sent to Fagen. However, council comment swayed in favor of Shogan.

At the end Shogan said neither the public or council persuaded him that the issue of Local 270’s contract should be deferred to the next city council.

“You talk about cheating the public?” Shogan said. “If you’re going to sit here and say I’m going to defer everything to the next council, get up, give your salary back and move on.”

Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin attempted to delay the vote by petitioning to move it to January 30, which would also send it to the incoming city council where she has a seat, but that was quickly shot down.

The council voted 5 to 2 to approve Local 270’s new contract.