Chicago Paramedics, Firefighters Receive 10% Raise In Latest Contract

Agreement also calls for an increase in so-called "duty availability" pay.


 
 

FRAN SPIELMAN, Chicago Sun-Times | | Thursday, February 24, 2011


Chicago firefighters and paramedics would get a 10 percent pay raise over five years and give the city its most flexibility ever to reduce manpower and cut overtime costs under a tentative contract up for a ratification vote.

After nearly four years of bargaining slowed by a civil war within the Chicago Fire Fighters Union, the city and Local 2 have finally reached agreement on a contract that calls for the elimination and reassignment of a fire company to reduce city overtime costs. The targeted company had been assigned to the repair shop.

The contract, which would run until June 30, 2012, gives firefighters and paramedics the same 10 percent raise an independent arbitrator awarded to Chicago Police officers.

The contract also includes cost-saving flexibility in the requirement that there be five employees on every piece of fire apparatus. That's the issue that triggered the bitter 1980 firefighters strike.

The city is currently allowed to dip below that requirement 30 times a day. Under the contract, the number of daily "variances" would rise to 35 times a day.

In addition, firefighters who go home sick during their shift would not automatically need to be replaced. Their company would be free to operate with four employees, instead of five.

The agreement also calls for an increase in so-called "duty availability" pay - from $730 per quarter to $805. Firefighters would be free to retire with full health benefits at age 55, but not until November 2011, and there would be caps on the number of firefighters who take advantage of the offer. The share of promotions based on merit, long a sore point with the rank-and-file, would remain at 16 percent.

Local 2 President Tom Ryan refused to comment on the agreement, even though the votes will be counted on Wednesday.

It's certain to be a disappointment to some, considering the union's own proposals.

Chicago firefighters started out demanding a 26 percent pay raise over four years, a $350-a-month meal-and-vehicle allowance and a $3,500-a-year residency stipend to compensate them for being forced to live in the city.

They further demanded no fewer than five employees on every piece of fire apparatus whenever temperatures dip below 20 degrees or rise above 90. The same five-employee minimum would have applied when the Department of Homeland Security raises the nation's threat level to red.

City Hall also would have been prohibited from summoning outside fire or emergency medical services until "all ancillary equipment" and rehiring available from within the Chicago Fire Department had been exhausted.

The last time Local 2 negotiated a new four-year deal, firefighters gave up so much in exchange for their 16 percent pay raise that the backlash ultimately cost then-union President Jim McNally his job. The share of promotions based on merit was increased from 10 per-cent to 16 percent. Chicago became the nation's first major city to test randomly for both alcohol and drug use, a key provision given the notorious antics in some firehouses over the years.

City Hall pegged the cost of the police contract at $385 million and borrowed $160 million to bankroll the back pay. The cost of the firefighters contract was not known. Nor was it clear whether the city would need a similar short-term borrowing.



Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, union, politics, contract, Chicago, budget

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

University of Pittsburgh STAAMP Trial

Trauma experts launch tranexamic acid trial.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New York Ambulance Service Begins Using Power Cot

Service is first in county with new technology.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Traffic Cam Captures Wisconsin Ambulance Crash

Driver of ambulance cited for failing to operate safely.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Hospital Mourns Helicopter Crash Victims

TriState CareFlight pilot and crew killed in crash.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Moscow Subway MCI

At least 20 dead and 150 injured in subway derailment.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On July 2014

Check out the latest products and innovations in JEMS.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Wounded Veteran Resiliency

Marine is one of many in quality of life study.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


More Product Videos >