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RTM Rejects Employee Contracts

New wage agreements with Westport municipal employees and firefighters calling for increases in the second, third and fourth years were rejected Tuesday by the RTM due to cost concerns. The proposed four-year contracts would be retroactive to July 1, 2009.

Because both contracts were rejected, Floyd Dugas, the town's labor attorney, said the next step in the process will involve state arbitration.

The municipal employee contracts stipulated wage freezes the first year. An increase of 1.25 percent was proposed for the second year and 2.75 percent hikes for the third and fourth years. The RTM rejected the municipal employee contracts 22-11, with one abstention.

"I believe the wage increases are too high given the current economic environment. They are just way too high," said RTM member Kevin Green of District 9. "I'm sorry guys, I cannot see this. I know the people in this town work hard. I'm very supportive of them in general, but I tell you what: If this gets approved, there's going to be less of you working next year."

The proposed firefighter contracts were also ill received by the RTM. Like the municipal contracts, a wage freeze was suggested for the first year, followed by increases of 3.25 percent the second year and 2.75 percent in the third and fourth years.

Fire Inspector Nathaniel Gibbons spoke in favor of the changes and urged the RTM to approve them, adding that arbitration may work against the town. But the RTM voted 26-9 to reject the terms.

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