Fairfield's Nurses to Get Raises, Agree to Concessions in New Contract

Fairfield's nurses have not seen raises since their contract expired in 2010. They'll get them now, and have also agreed to several concessions in a new agreement.

Fairfield's nurses will receive raises and agreed to several concessions in a contract approved by the nurses' union last month, should the RTM ratify the agreement.

The contract was reviewed at Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting by Attorney Patrick McHale, who represents the town in labor negotiations. He introduced the contract's changes as "analogous" to the ones made in the .

The contract covers 35 nurses employed by the town.

The agreement expired in June 2010, so the town's public nurses have not received a raise in more than two years. In the new four-year contract, which expires in June 2014, nurses will receive a 4 percent general wage increase upon ratification of the contract and an additional 2.25 percent raise increase in July 2013 -- a total 6.25 percent increase over the life of the agreement.

As for concessions, nurses agreed to change the way they contribute to their health insurance premiums, McHale said. Instead of paying a flat $31 a week for single, couple, or family coverage, they will be 12 percent of the premium costs for the coverage they elect -- a "significant increase they've agreed to," McHale said.

Nurses hired after the start of the new contract will not be added to town's defined benefit pension plan. Instead, they will go to a defined contribution 401(a) plan for retirement coverage.

The town will match up to 5 percent of the base pay for each nurse enrolled in the new plan, which represents a payroll savings of up approximately 4 percent, McHale said.

Nurses also agreed to reduce the number of paid sick days. Nurses with 10 years or more of service will receive 20 paid sick days instead of 30; those with five to 10 years of service will receive 15 days instead of 20; those who have worked between one and five years will receive 10 days instead of 15. New hires will accrue one day per month for a maximum of six days in their first year of service, according to McHale.

Fairfield will no longer provide more than the statutory allotment for workers' compensation should a nurse be injured on duty. Instead, according to McHale, nurses will have to debit their sick leave days if they need more supplemental compensation.

Finally, the agreement allows the town to assign nurses based on skills, abilities, and experience, instead of seniority.

"The nurses should be applauded for working with the town," McHale said.

First Selectman Michael Tetreau agreed. "This is another example of employees trying to work with the town."

Joeseph Biff September 11, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Over two years without a raise.Oh the horror!
EPF156 September 11, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Nice comment Biff, you try going to a job for two years without a raise. I am not a town nurse but it sucks. These nurses can easily go to another town job OR a hospital and probably get their deserved raise or be paid more. So instead of making obnoxious comments, appreciate those who chose to municipal workers, especially on 9/11.
fairfield newcomer September 11, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I can assure you that most couples and families would love to find health insurance for $131.00 per week, who's watching the taxpayers interests in these negotiations? Are school nurses working a 10 or a 12 month year and why are the sick day numbers still so generous?
fairfield newcomer September 11, 2012 at 12:25 PM
There are huge numbers of jobs that haven't had raises for a long time and if the grass is greener in an OR or a hospital you might consider that the type of nursing that is required in those instances are considerably more intense than in a school. That today is 9/11 is a ridiculous association regarding this matter, ridiculous.
Bill September 11, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I'm pleased to see the Town transition from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan as well as town employees funding more of their health care expenses. Obviously the prior method was/is too much of a burden on the tax payers and I commend the individuals who are working to make the system more "in line" with the private sector as well as the town employees agreeing to the concessions.
Agnes S. King September 11, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I wonder if their increase in payment of insurance is that much more of an increase? @ a flat $31.00 per week before, now they are going to pay 12% of their actual premium, how is that calculated? I think this article needs some clarification. Basically if they have a monthly premium of say $500.00, @ 12% they would be responsible $60.00 and if you divided that per week it would = $15.00 which is less than half of what they incurred before....Or did they agree to pay 12% of the monthly premium each week making it based on monthly premium of $500.00 @ 12% = $60.00 per week x 4 = $240.00 monthly = almost 1/2 of the monthly premium? That would become a huge concession on their part...
Bill September 11, 2012 at 02:32 PM
That's a great question Suburban. If the latter is correct, yes it is a significant percentage increase however, the amount they are funding on a monthly basis for medical coverage is still significantly lower than what most private sector employess pay. Caitlin, would you be so kind to inquire about how the insurance premium is actually calculated? Thank you.
Martha Kuczo September 11, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Public sector employees often take these jobs because of the benefits, not because of the salary. Many of these municipal jobs would pay far more for comparable work done in the private sector, without the benefits. So until these people make comparable private sector salaries, quit complaining about what they have that you don't. Many are tax payers in town too!
A Friend September 11, 2012 at 02:51 PM
The school nurses in this town do an amazing job of caring for our children. Many people are under the assumption that they make as much as teachers. At less then $60K/year, they make significantly less. When you make that much, a 2% increase is not much and with the increase in their insurance payments, the increase in each paycheck is a few dollars.   They work without pay over the summer to make sure the school population is ready to go before the first day of school. They do not get overtime but are routinely at school well after the children go home. They may get 20 sick days a year but you would be hard pressed to find a school nurse who ever comes near that number – despite their exposure to infectious disease on a daily basis. Why? Because they care about your children. They care for students with diabetes, breathing problems, life threatening allergies, behavioral issues and many other complex physical and emotional needs. I have found their dedication to be extraordinary and Fairfield is well served by them.
Bill September 11, 2012 at 03:08 PM
A friend, no one is questioning our nurses dedication or love they share for the children in their care. This is about making adjustments to a non sustanable benefits plan that is not only affecting the Town of Fairfield, but Towns across the Nation -some of which have filed for bankruptcy. The Town increasing the salaries while at the same time nurses accepting concessions in retirement benefits as well as medical expenses will eventually even out and take the burden off of tax payers.
Agnes S. King September 11, 2012 at 03:32 PM
I wholeheartedly agree, our Town & School Nurses are exceptional. From this article, I got the impression that they should have gotten more...instead of having to make concessions...
Fairfield Resident September 11, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Boo Hoo......Try 3-4 years without a raise. Oh....and LOL at "deserved" raise. Rough work being a "School Nurse".
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) September 11, 2012 at 04:22 PM
As soon as I get a copy of the contract, I will publish the details on that item here.
Joeseph Biff September 11, 2012 at 05:04 PM
EPF 156, The school nurses would not want to work in a hospital enevironment because they they'll have to work way,way harder than in a school .Hospital nursing is by far a more demanding job ,both physically and mentally.They know that.I know first hand because my wife is an RN at St. Vincent and from my personal experiences, family members,friends,etc. You ask try going two years without a raise.How about going two years without a job!! That's the situation for MILLIONS of people today.Or have you been walking around with your head buried very deeply in the sand? As the old clich'e saying goes,be thankful you HAVE a job.
Joeseph Biff September 11, 2012 at 05:06 PM
EPF 156, Shame on you for connecting pay raises with 9/11.
Joeseph Biff September 11, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Excuse grammatical error in first statement.
Joeseph Biff September 11, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Excuse grammatical error and shame on you for connecting pay raises with 9/11
tonypct September 11, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Joseph Biff, hospital nursing is a different type of nursing, not necessarily more demanding. School nurses have their own demands put on them which can be just as stressful as in a hospital setting. I am appalled at the disrespect and ridicule shown by you and other ill-informed posters about our school nurses. They deserve a lot of credit for keeping our school children safe and healthy, especially since many children today have health conditions that require skilled nursing expertise to keep them in the school setting.
tonypct September 11, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Well said, Friend.
Brian September 11, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Maybe some of the raises not seen in "a long time" were quite generous and the discomfort of going without one or even a couple may have been offset by high numbers in the good times. Just sayin'. How many nurses in a middle or high school with populations of 1000+? Just tracking the meds is enough to make someone sick.
Joeseph Biff September 12, 2012 at 10:43 AM
tonypct, I must disagree with you.Have you ever considered what it's like being a nurse in the ER at Bridgeport Hospital? Imagine on any given night the people coming in with stab wounds,bullet wounds,all types of trauma,drug overdoses,etc.Then you have the stress of dealing with intoxicated,violent patients and relatives and friends of these patients. How about patients who get infected with c-diff, or treating terminally ill elderly patients? Sick babies.The list can go on and on. I don't believe many school aged children come to the school nurse with such severe maladies. So your naivety on this subject leads one to believe you don't know what the heck you're talking about.That's appalling. You have a wonderful day!
tonypct September 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM
What's appalling Joseph is your elitist and condescending attitude toward school nurses. For someone who has nurses in your family, your disrespect is quite telling. Re-read my posts. You'll see that I never denigrated any nurse no matter in what specialty he or she works. It's clear that you argue and debate from a position of insult and ignorance. You are not even worth debating with. You can respond and have the last word; especially if it makes you feel good.
Agnes S. King September 12, 2012 at 03:16 PM
hmmmm, the naivety Mr. Biff seems to be in your corner. Are you aware about the percentage of children in school each and every day who have significant medical conditions and other special needs, it is the school nurses responsibility that they survive the day...Children who have multiple disabilities, such as: Seizures, MS, Life Threatening Illnesses, Mental Health Issues, PTSD, Med Management, Cancer, CP, Autism...the list goes on and on...although it's not as fast paced as an ER, they have the same responsibility and without the aid and assistance of a doctor on staff...You would have to double check with the BOE but there are probably about 300 students with severe medical conditions going to school everyday that require the attention of a nurse each day...I don't think an ER does that kind of volume but I could be wrong...
Joeseph Biff September 12, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Sub HW, Let's see,how about YOU double check with the BOE .First find out the total number of schools in Fairfield,then divide that number by about 300 (as you say) .Then get back to me and let me know how many students that equals per school. You did not bring up the point I made about patients that are violent,drunk,on drugs,etc in your article.Crawl out from the protective shell you have lived under and visit the ER in BP on any given Friday or Saturday night.Naivety back in your corner sub HW.
Joeseph Biff September 12, 2012 at 07:28 PM
tony, You seem to have a fetish for the word appalling.Elitist....You hear words from the talking heads on radio and TV and throw them around without knowing what they mean.You see,I don't claim to be better than you or anyone else,but I know I'm a better PERSON than many.Ex: criminals,child abusers,etc.Can you follow that logic tony? So knock yourself out and call me what ever you like if that's 'your thing'. This is an open forum where one is free to express ideas and thoughts.If you can't handle the truth or are offended by comments given here and know they are going to make you unhappy,than simply ignore them.You know,move on.So it seems I rustled a few of your feathers tony.That makes me feel good
Agnes S. King September 12, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Boy Mr. Biff, you seem like a rather angry fellow...actually the number is higher than that, I was just being kind. But basing it on the 300 figure that would be about 20+ per school (18 schools). As far as the violent, drunk, angry & on drugs etc statement...again, was trying to be kind...but since you seem to be rather uneducated, let me give you a lesson in the real world, you obviously have never worked with a child with behavioral issues before, I have seen a 3 yr old take 4 adults down at once and school nurses had to patch everybody up and work with the child and I would never cross paths with an angry parent of a special needs child if I wanted to live...parents who have children with special needs will rip you to shreds and spit you out, especially if you cross them. Not quite sure why you think I would live under a protective shell, but I have worked at and been to the ER many times...so what...(at least they have security people right there) remember this whole thread was about an increase in wages to Ffld Nurses (who deserve it) & concessions they made ...
tonypct September 12, 2012 at 08:52 PM
SHW, don't even bother responding to Biff. It's obvious he cannot carry on a civil conversation. And at this point, all you're doing is feeding the troll.
Joeseph Biff September 13, 2012 at 12:11 AM
SUB HF, I see you are going into meltdown mode because you also got your feathers all rustled up to like tony did. :-( Hey,I can't help it if your over sensitive personality can't handle simple facts or opinions . I am not an angry fellow at all as you state.For your information I happen to be a very happy and contented fellow.I rather enjoy this sort of exchange.Nothing in my post expresses anger in anyway towards you or dear tony.That's how YOU perceive it. I did not start with the insults.You and your friend tony did that .Oh that tony,the person who by the way said he was done with this thread.I guess he just can't help himself. He has nothing intelligent to offer so he has to start hurling insults over the internet.Wow,what a manly man is he!ISo anyway,since you were trying so hard to be kind to me,I'll return the favor by imparting these words of wisdom to you (tony,this also goes for you ): Be certain brain is engaged before putting mouth in gear. You have a blessed evening!
fairfield newcomer September 22, 2012 at 03:39 PM
You need to do a bit of research and substantiate this claim, I have seen studies that claim that public sector employees ARE being compensated at prevailing rates and what you state WAS true many years ago and that justified the generous benefits provided, those days are long gone but the benefits packages remain as though the salaries weren't competitive.
Boo September 26, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Let's not breakout the tissues so soon. Many private sector workers, at least those that still have their job, haven't seen raises the past two years as well. Now they get 4% for this year and 2.25% for next year, 6.25% over 4 years looks pretty generous to me. As for the sick day givebacks! Giving 30 sick days to someone that works maybe 180 school days is not benefit it's a crime!!!!!! And if they don't use them do they get to carry them over to the next year, and so on, and so on. So after 6 years they are entitled to a years salary. Nice!!!!! And ponying-up 12% for health care try ponying-up 30%......If anyone thinks they got a raw deal try the public sector.


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