Wil Levins Independent Candidate for Gloucester City Council, Second Ward feels the present mayor and council are not dealing fairly with the employees of Gloucester City many of who are working without a union contract.
His statement reads as follows,
Gloucester City is a skilled labor community. It is blue-collar and hard working. It has been a friend to organized labor as so many of our residents are union members themselves, working in the skilled trades.
With this in mind, we should never fail to recognize our most visible union members. Our Police, Fire, and Public Works Departments workers are all members of organized labor and deserve our support.
Over the past three years our City’s leadership has neglected to recognize this and has failed to negotiate with our City’s unions in an open and constructive manner. I understand full well that times are tough and that Gloucester City is in a budget crisis however that does not excuse the fact that our governing body has failed to meet with our union leaders regularly and bargain fairly at the negotiations table. Our Police Department, for example, has been without a contract since 2007 and is currently in arbitration! That does not speak to an open dialogue.
When you hear from one person or one group about labor unrest and neglect it could almost be dismissed as a negotiations tactic. When you hear the same complaints from all of our City’s unions and their members, then we must begin to openly question our Administration’s dealings.
Why did our City’s leaders fail to open a reasonable dialogue that would have saved both the Policeman’s Union and our City’s Administration tens of thousands of dollars in arbitration costs? What specifically was gained in turning a def ear and blind eye to the growing unrest within our City’s Police, Fire and Public Works Departments? Why have so many grievances been filed accusing administration officials of unfair labor practices and violations of worker’s rights? Why is our City embroiled in so many lawsuits from its own employees? How can our City spend millions of taxpayer dollars on property purchases and pet projects but dismiss the obligations it has to its own employees? Where are the labor friendly good faith negotiations that were expressed in the fall campaign of 2006?
Ladies and gentleman, I am not and will not ever attempt to try and negotiate for our unions. However, as a proud member of the United Steelworkers Union, I cannot sit quietly by and watch as our unionized brothers and sisters are minimized and neglected. I encourage our residents to ask these questions of our elected officials and to thank our Police, Fire and Public Works employees for their service to our City.
I believe our residents need an Independent Watchdog on City Council to ask these questions, share these views and deliver this information to our community. I hope you will consider my campaign on November 3rd.