Mayor Wu says council's budget override violates Boston city charter

Mayor Michelle Wu on Monday said she would not honor the Boston City Council's recent attempt to tie pay raises for municipal security workers to the annual budget, arguing the move was illegal because the council inserted itself into collective bargaining negotiations.

Last month, councilors overrode Wu's original budget proposal in order to set aside nearly $600,000 to give those security officers a raise. The officers' union, the Municipal Police Patrolmen's Union, is currently negotiating a new contract with the city.

The city charter "prohibits the Council from participating in labor matters and the making of contracts," Wu wrote in a letter. She argued state law is "equally clear" that third parties are excluded from participating in the collective bargaining process.

Wu said she supports a salary adjustment, but the council's allocation will not be used for this purpose.

The councilor who sponsored the override pushed back on Wu's position Monday.

"I don't really see this as getting involved in negotiation," councilor Frank Baker said in an interview. "They know what they want, we just funded it."

The move strikes down the council's final attempt to flex its new power to change the mayor's proposed budget. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2021 allowing the council to amend line items in the city budget, and override mayoral vetoes.

Wu rejected a majority of the council's changes in June. The council then attempted six overrides of Wu's vetoes, but just one — the amendment related to municipal officers' salaries — garnered enough votes to pass.

Baker said he did not see a way to formally challenge Wu's position. But he vowed to advocate for the security officers as they continue negotiating for higher salaries with the city.

"They're given this false sense of, 'People like us, they care about us, we're going to get a raise,' " he said. "And then when the rubber meets the road, the people that are saying that they care about them are acting that they don't."


Walter Wuthmann General Assignment Reporter
Walter Wuthmann is a general assignment reporter for WBUR.



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