The South Milwaukee City Council has approved a new four-year contract with firefighters represented by the South Milwaukee Firefighters Protective Association Local 1633.
I think it’s a fair deal that is reflective of the city’s financial picture – and a strong example of the type of collaboration that can happen among public employee unions and their employers.
The deal is effective Jan. 1 and expires Dec. 31, 2015. Among the highlights:
- It calls for no pay raise immediately, then a 2% increase on Jan. 1, 2013; 1% increase on July 1, 2013; 2% increase on Jan. 1, 2014; and 1% increase on July 1, 2014. Additionally, the deal calls for a potential “base wage reopener” for Jan. 1, 2105, under which the union notifies the city by Aug. 15, 2014, of its desire to reopen the contract for wage negotiations.
- Effective July 1, it calls for the city to pay the same amount toward firefighter health insurance as it does for its non-represented and civil service employees – 88%. Workers pay anything above that amount for the lowest cost health plan.
- It also brings firefighters in line with other workers when it comes to pension contributions, within a year. Under the deal, the city will pay one half of the employee-required pension contribution effective July 1. Effective Jan. 1, 2013, the firefighter will pay that entire amount (about 5.8% of their earnings), the same amount other non-represented workers pay. All new employees will pay the full amount immediately.
- The deal also relaxes firefighter residency requirements, making their residency standard the same as it is for all non-represented workers. It requires firefighters to live within these boundaries: Highway 20 from Racine west to Highway S; north on S to Highway K; west on K to Highway 164, north on 164 to the Waukesha-Racine County border, east to Highway V (Town Line Road) extended, north on Highway V extended to Silver Spring Road (Highway VV), and east on Silver Spring Road to Whitefish Bay.
The deal also makes some changes to retiree health insurance; sick leave allocation, usage and payouts upon retirement; bereavement leave; and limited duty assignments, among other areas.
Firefighters ratified the contract on Friday.
Of course, I’d like to know what you think of the contract. Post your comments below.