The Fridley City Council unanimously adopted the 2017-19 master labor agreement for Fridley firefighters during the July 24 meeting.
City staff and the Fire Bargaining Unit Local 1986 (Captains) entered into negotiations in January of this year and reached what is believed to be a positive and reasonable settlement. The groups met on three occasions to discuss interests and negotiate terms before coming to an agreement.
“Wages are, again, at the center of our discussions with this group as well,” said Fridley Human Resources Director Deborah Dalh. “The market is always the primary issue in trying to remain competitive so that is something that we spent a lot of time on. Our challenge with this group was trying to even identify the market.”
Because very few cities have a combination department (both full-time and paid on-call employees) it was difficult to find a comparable market.
“I think the message was really to keep pace with what is perceived to be the market,” said Dahl. “We still believe the city is continuing to lag behind just slightly with a number of the base wages.”
Dahl added that recruitment and retention can be difficult if the city does not remain competitive.
The three-year contract includes a wage increase for captains of 2.5 percent in 2017, 2.75 percent in 2018 and 3 percent in 2019.
Since there are currently no full-time firefighters or full-time inspectors both parties agreed to leave those wages flat. It is the City’s position that Fire Captains are paid at the market or within three percent of the 2016 rates.
The wage increase for captains mirror the Fridley Police Sergeant’s contract that was approved by the council during the July 10 meeting.
The new contract also includes one additional holiday from 11 to 12. The uniform allowance will also increase $5 in 2018 and $10 in 2019.
Insurance employees in this bargaining unit will receive the same insurance benefit package as all other city employees, which includes the health, dental and life insurance and alternatives (cash option or benefit leave).
The agreement will increase expenses in the general fund budget by $2,213.06 in 2017.
The contract, effective Jan. 1, 2017, will be applied within the next few weeks and retroactive pay will be given.
The contract stipulations do not include overtime, shift differential or court time, which is unplanned. The agreement also does not include the possibility that the legislature may change the employer contribution for the PERA pension.
“I am really proud of the work that goes into these labor negotiations,” said Dahl. “All of the labor groups and the representatives are very dedicated as I have mentioned before and very passionate. We have had changes in this unit with staffing changes and new representation and we are just really happy with the work that they have done. All of our meetings have been very productive and trustworthy.”
Negotiations with the patrol unit are still underway with a mediation session scheduled for the end of August.
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