FRAMINGHAM – Last week and this week, a dozen City of Framingham employees were laid off.
Most of the employees laid off by Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer and her administration were in the Department of Public Works.
SOURCE first broke the news of the layoffs on May 14. When SOURCE contacted City Council Chair George P. King Jr. on May 14, he had not heard about the layoffs officially from the Spicer administration.
The Spicer administration told the news outlet when asked about the layoffs on May 14 it would issue a statement on Friday afternoon. It did issue a statement on May 15.
Yesterday, May 21, City Council Chair wrote an email to the 11-member City Council informing them that members of the Spicer administration were telling the city’s municipal unions that the “DPW layoffs were ordered or required by the City Council,” which was completely inaccurate.
King said the City Council had no say in the layoffs.
“An issue came to my attention yesterday and today that I want everyone to be aware of. The DPW union representative was telling people that the DPW layoffs were ordered or required by the City Council. Several people had reached out to me regarding this. I spoke with the local Union representative at the Laborers Union this afternoon and he in fact said he had been told such by the administration and had repeated it to people. I informed him that there have been several City Councilors at least that have advocated for budget reductions, strategic furloughs etc, but I have never heard anyone advocate or suggest laying off front line DPW employees. I told him that was unfortunate misinformation and not reflective of the powers of the city council to require layoffs at all, and certainly not specific ones. He appreciated the clarification,” wrote King to the 11-member City Council.
SOURCE reached out on May 21 to the Mayor & her administration for comment on layoff communication to the unions and to the City Council. No response was received as of 9:30 a.m. today, May 22 from the mayor of her administration.
King wrote to Councilors he reached out to the Mayor “asking if she could be sure her administrators communicate accurate information to the unions during these difficult times.”
SOURCE spoke to a handful of DPW union members who said they were told that the City Council was responsible for the layoffs and not the Spicer administration.
The City Council does not run the day-to-day operation of the City and thus can not layoff employees.
During budget season, the City Council does have the authority to eliminate positions from the budget and or reduce salary line items in the budget, but has not taken a vote on the Fiscal year 2021 budget yet. that budget begins on July 1, 2020.
Any positions currently in the budget were approved by the City Council in their vote last June 2019.
The Mayor held a conference call last week with department heads and union leadership after the layoffs began but before they were completed. Acting Director of Public Works Blake Lukis and Framingham Parks & Recreation Director James Synder, CFO Mary Ellen Kelly, and COO Thatcher Kezer III were on that call.
Union leaders on that call were asked by the Spicer administration to attend the Zoom meeting of the City Council’s finance subcommittee meeting on Monday night. The Mayor did not attend that meeting. The City’s CFO presented the Spicer administration’s new budget proposal for $298 million.
SOURCE asked the Mayor in an email yesterday for a statement on her administration’s decision to layoff DPW employees and when the City Council was notified. Again no response has been received.