Moccia: Treating unions with respect doesn’t mean you forget taxpayers

NORWALK, Conn. – It’s a different world than it was 10 years ago, according to Mayor Richard Moccia, in reference to the many union endorsements received by his opponent in next week’s election, former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling.

Rilling referred to his years on both sides of the table, as a department head at one point and a union representative in other years, as he answered a question about the Norwalk Federation of Teachers contract re-opener at Tuesday’s League of Women Voters mayoral debate.

Rilling said a mayor should be a facilitator, working to avoid a costly arbitration.

“You have to sit at the table,” he said. You have to get involved. You can’t look and say it doesn’t fall on my shoulders, I’ll let the BET take care of that, I’ll let the BOE take care of this. You have to be a hands-on person.”

Among Rilling’s many endorsements is that of the firefighters union.  A firefighters union endorsement pushed Moccia over the top in his narrow 2005 victory over Mayor Alex Knopp, many observers say.

Union President Elefterios Petrides said union members want to be treated fairly. He was quoted in a press release as saying it was about respect.

Moccia said respect does not mean giving unions everything they want.

“I think you have to sit down and look at unions with a different perspective than we did 10 years ago. It is a different world out there,” he said. “There has to be some more givebacks from unions, but also respecting what they do as professionals.”

The balance in that has to be to Norwalk’s taxpayers, who do not want to be forced out of their homes by high taxes, he said.

“It is not a lack of respect to say to the party on the other side ‘I don’t agree with you, we’re negotiating hard.’ That’s been my stand all along. Fairness, balance, and make sure both sides are represented well.”

Both points of view are presented in the video above.

We will present all of the videos from the debate to you before next Tuesday’s election. Below you will find two other videos on topics that have been covered thoroughly on this website: department heads and the diversity of Norwalk’s commissions and boards.


8 responses to “Moccia: Treating unions with respect doesn’t mean you forget taxpayers”

  1. Piberman

    When the NFT is calling on its members (Sept Vanguard) to only elect Democrats across the board they’re not looking for respect. But payback they’ll never be taken to arbitration head. That’s why the NFT has been vigorously calling not to elect the Chair of the BOE Negotiating Committee Sue Haynie. The NFT only wants return to the glory contract days when Democrats controlled the BOE and made them top paid teachers -5th highest paid in state. The NFT has big expectations on a Mayor Rilling and. Dem BOE and it’s all about much better salaries. Everyone knows that respect is the code works. That’s how union politics works. The Chief doesn’t have to make specific promises if everyone knows how the game us played.

    The great tragedy for Norwalk is that an emboldened NFT with a Dem controlled BOE would likely force Dr Rivera to resign and reverse all the good works of recent years. Chief a Rilling has an opportunity to disavow the NFT blanket support of Dems only for the BOE but hadn’t done so.

    We all remember that Gov Malloy made no spoken public promises to his union supporters. But everyone knew how the game us played and only the innocent were surprised by the historic tax hike, union job security and higher salaries.

    Union support when it comes thick and heavy has costs – higher taxes.
    Three years of stagnant property values ought to raise questions about the consequences of future taxes. That’s the issue here – the tax consequences of strong union support.

  2. Daisy

    They’re all endorsing Rilling because he’s promised them the world. And, again, most of them don’t live in Norwalk so they don’t care about taxes. But if Rilling is elected, taxes will go thru the roof and he’ll be a one-termer ’cause everybody who DOES live in Norwalk who’s drinking his Kool-Aid will suddenly realize it doesn’t taste so good.

  3. Oldtimer

    Moccia, and Mr Berman yearn for the bygone days when there were no unions and the poor and/or enslaved toiled all day for whatever the all wise, and wealthy, owners decided was good for them, even the five year olds that worked in coal mines.
    Happily, we have made a little progress from those days and will continue to progress.

  4. Norwalkalways

    Come on oldtimer. That Moccia is negotiating hard with taxpayer dollars (as is his job) isn’t indication he wants to see poor people enslaved to the wealthy.

    Let’s have a little respect for the intelligence of our fellow readers, buddy.

  5. M Allen

    Oldtimer is tossing around that old Union canard about what unions used to do versus what they do today. Fortunately OT, unions of yesteryear won the war to the point that those kinds of protections are now mandated by government regulation. In today’s world, unions are generally fighting for their CBA and not worker protections. Unless those worker protections are keeping bad employees employed. I guess that’s one protection even the government won’t codify into law.

  6. M Allen

    What part of public-sector unions wield undue power and influence over elected city officials, the people who ultimately decide their pay, don’t you comprehend? That isn’t even a debate over the utility of unions in a general sense. That is a debate over the sanctity of the election process and the ability for elected representatives to properly govern and represent the people. There is a good reason why public-employee unions are the largest and fastest growing contingent within organized labor.

  7. D(ysfunctinoal)TC

    Daisy, taxes don’t necessarily have to go thru the roof right away. They can raid the rainy day fund and also underfund the pensions to give the appearance of low tax increases. Of course at some point taxes would necessarily have to explode to maintain adequate reserves and the city’s credit rating. A slight credit downgrade of 1/2 a point could result in an additional $1 million in interest a year.
    Currently the city’s debt is roughly $250 million and we pay about $10 million on interest a year. This has been relatively flat in Moccia’s 7 years after an explosion during the 4 Knopp years.
    Knopp started with us $153 million in debt and left w/ $227 million in debt. Under Moccia it has increased $23 million.
    averaging that out, Knopp increased our debt $19 million every year for four years versus Moccia increases of $3 million every year for 7 years. This years annual report won’t be available until January, but I’m fairly certain we are in line with recent history.
    Some wont believe this so I’ll refer you to the reports here
    I’d give Mr. Rilling the benefit of the doubt, but since Miklave actively sought to raid our rainy day funds and Knopp’s history, you can see which party is clearly more fiscally prudent.

  8. Ken P Jr

    Honestly municipal unions are a big waste most times. Rilling stating he has been on both sides simply exposes his hypocrisy & his ability to pitch for whoever is paying him. Those arent attributes of an honest person or one who cares about the taxpayers first. Moccia is far from perfect but Rilling is out to lunch, he’s an egotist who cant stand the idea that his day in the limelight is over. He was a terrible chief if you the measure of his performance is service to taxpayers. Why do we need municipal unions? Understand Im all for private unions, in the real world where there are multipal pools of workers & multiple employers. But in a case like this with a single employer & a single pool of employees its just a waste of our money. City wide our municipal employees are paid above the average for private citizens performing the same jobs. Our teachers, police & FD all are doing very well, especially considering what the real world has goine thru. If they needed to actually turn a profit like the rest of us their pay & bennies would be cut like the rest of us. But because of the unions thats not possible & because they are municipal unions we cant hire non union like has happenned across the board in the private sector, you know, the poor saps paying for everything.
    A vote for Rilling is a vote against the citizens of Norwalk.

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