Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
My sharp tongue has earned me a rebuke from the spiritual leader of the “Downtown Mob.” You may be surprised to learn, I take note of such admonition.
So, it is with kind spirit that I praise the latest editorial from
the Blog of Record The Lowell Sun.
After nearly four years of living on the economic edge, precipitated by the worst economic downtown since the Great Depression, the city can breathe a sigh of relief. Lowell is not flush in cash by any means, but the Lynch administration has navigated the fiscal ship through turbulent seas and earned Master-and-Commander status.
And unless there is a cataclysmic collapse in state local aid - which isn’t likely - Lowell is in a position to slowly and steadily build its stabilization funds and reserve accounts in the years ahead.
Let’s say, for now, I have a disagreement with this part of the Editorial. I think it is wise to provide our city workers living wages that acknowledge an awareness of their value per a “total compensation” perspective.
We do have one concern, however. Lynch appears too free with the people’s money when it comes to granting pay increases to the city’s unions and administrative personnel. He has negotiated a three-year, 7 percent increase for the Superior Police Officers Union, the first of 12 new union contracts that must be negotiated. The 7 percent sets a benchmark for all other unions.
Several area towns have settled with their unions for 4 percent over three years. Why does Lowell pay a premium?
Lynch would argue that the city has received important union concessions that will save money down the road. We give him credit for that. But the give-something to get-something approach - long a public-sector negotiation tactic dictated by unions - is no longer valid today; the private sector has undergone a major correction on salaries/benefits and the public sector isn’t exempt.
That said, the City Council and the Lynch administration should take a bow for a job well done.
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