The Hiller Instinct: Firefighters contract
City councilors called what the firefighters did today "significant, even unprecedented," and to that I'd add "clever, even brilliant."
The concession will improve the public image of the Boston Firefighters Union, and put pressure on Mayor Menino--to prove he can compromise--which is all priceless to the union.
What makes it even sweeter for firefighters is that they didn't pay a very high price.
Yes, they saved the city $4.5 million, but part of the deal is the city will have to pay the money, starting next year, which is why the mayor sees the concession as a shiny Trojan Horse that may look pretty, but will begin a union war.
City Hall worries that other unions--knowing the firefighters got a deferred raise--will want one, too. But, the council doesn't appear convinced.
Councilors will vote on the updated contract next Wednesday, and every indication is it will pass.
Initially, the city skillfully spun the binding arbitration decision as too expensive, and just wrong for requiring pay raises for drug tests.
But council hearings revealed the city has paid other unions for drug tests before, and that the city can afford the contract.
What the city can't afford is continued division between the mayor and firefighters.
Today, the firefighters made a real move to end it.
I'm Andy Hiller, and that's my instinct.
(Copyright (c) 2010 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)