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Mayor and city labor union strike pay deal

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras signed an agreement Wednesday morning with the city's largest labor union that will affect nearly 900 workers and save more than $26 million over the next four years. The city faces a $180 million two-year budget deficit.

The deal, approved unanimously by members of Local 1033 of the Laborers' International Union of North America, will affect city department workers — excluding police officers, firefighters, teachers and city management. The contract must also be approved by the Providence City Council.

Local 1033 agreed to a 1 percent pay cut effective July 1, a raise in health care co-payments, a wage freeze until January 2012 and a 15 percent reduction in starting salaries for new employees. The union also gave up the 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment that workers received in their previous contract.

In exchange, the city promised there would be no layoffs for union workers.

"If we all join in sacrifice together, we will get our financial house in order," Taveras said.

Donald Iannazzi, business manager of the Local 1033, agreed that the city's financial problems required concessions from the union.

"We had a desire to cause our city to survive in the crazy fiscal turmoil we find ourselves in," Iannazzi said.

"It is certainly going to put a strain on our working families," Iannazzi said, adding that the average union employee now earns $31,000 annually. But he said the alternative would be a "lose-lose situation" because it would hurt both the workers and the city in the long term.

"We would rather all make concessions than have one member of our family unable to put food on their table," he said.



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