Town’s union laborers to be promoted on merit

Town’s union laborers to be promoted on merit

NORTH PROVIDENCE – A pending new contract agreement between Mayor Charles Lombardi and members of the Local 1033 of the Laborers International Union of North America will allow the town to promote dozens of employees based on merit, not solely on seniority.

The agreement, likely to be signed in the next month, will make the 70 or so members of the North Providence branch of the union the first in the state to be promoted based on merit, according to Lombardi.

“We’ve got great employees, I want to take care of them, I just can’t promote them solely based on seniority,” he said.

The mayor said he’s been pushing for this agreement for the past two years, insisting upon the merit-based measure as part of any pact. The union is being treated fairly with the three-year contract, he said, receiving pay increases of 5 percent last year, 5 percent this year, and 5 percent next year.

Members of Council 94 previously agreed to merit-based promotions. That union represents North Providence’s Department of Public Works employees. Local 1033 represents employees in Town Hall, dispatchers, clerical workers and some custodians.

Lombardi said if this contract were simply up to rank-and-file employees, he thinks it would have been signed some time ago. He said he expects it to set a sort of precedent for other locals of the union, or at least make it easier for other communities to negotiate.

As the mayor sees it, merit-based promotions just make sense, whether it’s in public employment or private business. At his Luxury Cleaners, he’s going to give more money to the employee who’s working harder and pressing more pairs of pants than the person next to him.

“That’s where I come from,” he said.

These changes won’t impact a significant number of situations, he told The Breeze, but it will allow promotions in situations where it’s deserved. It sends a poor message to promote someone who isn’t working very hard instead of someone who’s coming to work ready to give it their all every day.

“I think it’s a business move, so to say,” he said.

The contract also sets a standard for evaluation, he said, with final details still being worked out.

“I’m eager to sign it,” Lombardi said.

As part of the agreement, workers will also contribute more to their health care.


It is also a change that need be negotiated into all public employee union contracts, especially Teachers, Police and Firefighters.

While serving on the Cumberland School Committee we were made aware of a situation where a teacher with a 2nd-certification, but had never taught the subject (Latin), was able to bump a less senior teacher, acknowledged as one of the best Latin Teachers in the State, out of her job...based strictly on seniority.

This, then, became a #1 issue in the next contract negotiations...and was done away with.

This has got to be stopped in totality...way too often the best interests of the Public are not being served when we do not get the best person for the job...something I have personally seen happen way too often.

Tom Letourneau

Just goes to show you you get rewarded even if you don’t do a good job