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NAPLES, Italy — One of the largest stumbling blocks between two Italian labor unions and U.S. forces in Italy — the disposition of 122 workers facing a reduction in force — was largely overcome at a meeting Friday.

Biagio Montefusco, general secretary of the FISASCAT-CISL union, said that the meeting with the Rome-based U.S. Joint Civilian Personnel Committee went relatively well, with only 19 Italian positions remaining as a sticking point in the negotiations.

Lt. Cmdr. Lisa Braun, Navy spokeswoman, said that officials are trying to work with unions and employees to “mitigate the impact” of these reductions in force.

“The Navy will attempt to do everything possible to place people in other jobs,” she said.

Montefusco, though, said he wasn’t optimistic that this will happen.

“Now for 19 people, it looks like the Navy has lost the interest in finding the solution,” he said late Tuesday afternoon.

He said that military officials expected to deliver termination letters to the affected workers Friday, the majority of whom work at Naval Support Activity Naples.

Montefusco said that they have asked the personnel committee to delay the delivery, which will notify the employees that their jobs are terminated as early as Feb. 28.

Braun, however, said not all of the RIFs will be effective as of that date.

This is just one of the major issues complicating the ongoing talks on the renewal of the Italian workers’ Condition of Employment contract, which governs all aspects of their employment.

The two sides have been meeting for about 16 months to finalize the three-year contract. Last month, U.S. officials said the personnel committee and unions were nearing an agreement but didn’t give a date for its completion.

The two sides will meet March 14 to discuss the stalled contract and are expected to meet again in April and June, Montefusco said.

Other areas being worked out include what the unions say are substandard pension plans, pay scales they want to mirror their American counterparts’ and managerial pay for employees who perform managerial jobs but are not recognized as such.

In the past, negotiations over the three-year contract have taken as long as seven years. The COE stipulates that if it expires, Italian workers will continue their employment under the terms of the existing one until a new contract is signed.

Earlier this year, Italian base workers went on strike to protest the dragging contract negotiations. Two other planned strikes were later called off after the committee agreed to meet with the unions.

The FISASCAT-CISL and UILTUCS-UIL unions represent the roughly 4,400 Italians working on U.S. military bases. Together they represent about 6 million Italians nationwide.


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