An eleventh hour shift by Mayor Joseph Curtatone will save 28 school custodian jobs from the chopping block, but will likely have to answer questions from the state on whether the move is legal.
Curtatone, who had proposed cutting all 49 school custodian positions and outsourcing the work, put forward what he called a "hybrid plan" to the Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday.
Eight schools will have civil service custodians while two, Somerville High School and the East Somerville Community School, will be run by private firm AMPM.
Seventeen custodians will be laid off, with six getting the option of signing with AMPM.
"These are tough choices, but we don't have time to wait," Curtatone said. "If we don't move in this direction, we will be turning back the clock in this city for years."
Chief Shop Steward Peter Blaikie said in an e-mail that Mayor Joseph Curtatone had offered to keep a majority of the custodians while outsourcing at least 14 other positions at two schools.
"[W]e chose to refuse to throw our brother members under the bus to save our skins," Blaikie said. "We chose to be laid off and fight the mayor as our rights allow."
The custodian's union filed an unfair labor complaint with the state on June 18. Blaike, among those who will be laid off July 1, said the decision to only keep some civil service employees will likely strengthen the union's case with the sate.
"I'm not worried," Blaikie said. "I'm happy that 28 guys don't have to sweat it out. They can still go home and sleep at night. It's somebody else's decision that made this, not theirs."
As the Board of Aldermen took a final look at the FY11 budget Tuesday night, Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston said the mayor's new plan will likely leave many still unhappy. The original proposal had prompted a protest outside City Hall.
"It's not what everybody wants," Heuston said. "But nothing in this world is what everybody wants. It's something we can live with right now."