How much are Utica's union memberships willing to give to save jobs?

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri's 2012-2013 budget proposal carries an 18.19% tax increase and calls for 38 layoffs.

The bulk of the layoffs are in public safety, which makes up more than half the city budget. The city is still negotiating with both the police and fire departments, neither of which have a current contract.

The mayor says that now is the time to come to the table with any concessions, or 'give backs' that could save jobs. The question taking shape is - how much is membership willing to give in order to save the jobs of their co-workers?

"A cut in salary, of course it's hard to swallow," said Utica PBA President Dominick Nitti. "These guys are out their putting the uniform on, risking their life every day. Will they? I don't know. Of course, we're going to push it and try to get something back from the membership if we're able to save jobs. If they're going to tell me we're going to give back money in our salary or concessions and we're still going to lose bodies, that's a battle that I can't win with my membership."

Nitti says concessions will be discussed early next week.

Utica's Fire Union President says, they tried.

"UFD was willing to discuss concessions in lieu of job loss. They chose to go with job loss," says Local 32 President Robert Wenner, who says the department offered $750,000 in concessions. "We understand taxpayers are our employer, but we want to make sure lives and property are the first thought."

The mayor's budget proposal is now in the hands of the common council. That body has until March 20 to try and make any changes, find money and save jobs.

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