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Knapik stands by his plan to save jobs, despite opposition

Date: 6/16/2010

June 16, 2010.

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- Mayor Daniel Knapik is standing by his plan to save jobs and reduce personnel costs for fiscal year 2011 (FY11), despite strong opposition from some unions.

He reaffirmed the statement he made to the city council on June 3, recalling that he's shown unions "a clear pathway to save jobs." The plan calls for each employee to take three furlough days saving the city between $200,000 and $400,000.

"The negotiations that I have now, it's not like it's a clean start from today. The relationship is clouded from the previous administration," he explained.

Knapik noted the teachers' and firefighter unions have yet to agree upon a contract; the teachers' union will go to state mediation.

"With [teachers] and the fire [unions], they ought to take a look around and take the cue that it's the best pathway to save jobs,' he said, adding that their stance is "not going to be taken nicely by the taxpayer."

The school department's custodians and secretaries reached a one-year agreement last week. Other unions that have agreed to contracts include the police patrolmen, supervisors, department heads and custodians, Knapik noted.

"They [the unions] appreciate two things: the exact dollar value that each one is asked for; and though I've asked for something I'm willing to work with them to provide compensation," he said.

Knapik is looking to save every penny possible within his proposed $117.2 million FY11 budget due to the increased cost of living and decreased state aid and local revenue receipts. He has proposed using $1.5 million in free cash to plug the budget gap.

The city council's finance committee is currently conducting budget hearings in an effort to ratify the FY11 budget by June 30, the final day of FY10.