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Marty Walsh strikes deal with AFSCME for new city contract

Mayor Marty Walsh. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

City officials approved a four-year agreement with one of Boston’s largest labor unions Wednesday, settling another one of more than 30 union contracts under negotiation with the city.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s deal with Council 93 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees AFL-CIO will give workers a 2 percent annual wage increase over four years. It will also raise the base pay for about 650 union members already at the top of the pay scale twice over as many years.

The union is the fourth largest in the city, representing 1,130 members — or 7 percent of the city’s workforce — in departments such as public works, transportation, and in the Inspectional Services Department.

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The City Council unanimously approved funding for the deal Wednesday. AFSCME union membership voted last month to approve the contract, which has a total increase in cost of roughly $15.7 million over four years.

Walsh said in a statement that he was pleased with what he called a “fair agreement with AFSCME.”

“Their members are critical to providing the high level of city services Bostonians see every day, such as ensuring clean streets, inspecting Boston’s building projects, and keeping our parks beautiful,” the mayor said.

Frank Moroney, executive director of Council 93, added, “We reached this agreement after months of intense negotiations and like any good collective bargaining agreement, it’s rooted in compromise and mutual respect between labor and management.”

The agreement is similar to the deal the city struck in February with the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, which awarded the city’s roughly 1,500 police officers annual 2 percent increases over four years. Both arrangements could serve as a blueprint for future contract negotiations.

For the first time since he took office in 2014, Walsh is negotiating nearly every union contract with the city. Thirty-eight of the city’s contracts expired in the summer of 2016, including 12 with Boston Public Schools and eight with the Boston Public Health Commission. Three of the contracts with the city of Boston have now been resolved. The contracts for the city’s firefighters and EMTs will expire on June 30.

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Samuel R. Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, said that Walsh appears to have set a benchmark for future negotiations by agreeing to a 2 percent annual increase with two of the city’s biggest unions.

But, in an interview, he cautioned against the “compensation creep” — monetary benefits in addition to salary increases — that can inflate the total cost of the contract.

The top-tier salary increases in the AFSCME contract make up some of the $15.7 million rise in cost, he noted. The deal creates an additional step on the salary scale in 2018 and again in 2019 — each one representing an increase of 1 percent above the previous step.

The contract for the Patrolmen’s Association also had side revisions, such as changes to hazardous compensation payments and the department’s raise system. The city also restored the full benefits of so-called Quinn payments for officers who obtained additional education at a cost of about $4 million a year to the city.


Milton J. Valencia can be reached at milton.valencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.