Conn. city's new 6-year contract increases firefighter wages by 11%
New Haven firefighters will first see a 1% increase retroactive in fiscal 2019 and 2% retroactive for fiscal 2020 under a new contract
By Mary E. O'Leary
New Haven Register, Conn.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Firefighters have approved a contract that gives them an 11% wage increase over the course of the 6-year agreement, but also boosts the employee pension contribution and limits the number of retirees in a given year.
The document between the city and Local 825, IAFF, AFL-CIO has been sent to the Board of Alders, which must act on it by Oct. 21 or it automatically goes into effect.
It covers six years with a 1% increase retroactive in fiscal 2019 and 2% retroactive for fiscal 2020. Only active employees will receive the retroactive checks, which will be distributed in two payments: half paid within 2 months of approval by alders and the other on July 1.
For fiscal 2021 through fiscal 2013, the firefighters will get a 2% raise in each year.
The city will maintain the current high deductible health plan, with the same city contribution of 50% of the deductible paid on July 1 of each year; a health incentive plan will go into effect upon ratification as well as spousal benefits for retirees at the active employee contribution rate.
Retirees with 25 years of service or more will have their employee contribution percentage fixed at the rate they are paying at the time of retirement.
The big change on pensions concerns future workers who would be required to work 25 years in the department or reach the minimum age of 52 in order to collect a pension benefit, and the employee contribution across the board has been boosted to 11.5%.
On other pension issues, “service and sick time buyback for pension credit has been structured through three different levels of benefits based on seniority, and the total pension credit buyback is capped differently in each tier,” the contract reads.
“The ability to utilize sick leave buyback is capped to the 30 most senior employees in each calendar year of the contract to allow for longevity within the ranks. ... Pension benefits have been extended to spouses after the death of the retiree, up until the spouse remarries,” according to the contract.
The contract also settles other issues, such as the duties of the assistant chief of operations, as well as the department hierarchy.
Once the current chief of operations retires, the job will be an executive management and confidential position. The department hierarchy will be chief, assistant chief of administration, assistant chief of operations. In the absence of the chief, the chief of administration will have the full authority and control of the department.
This issue has been part of a grievance.
All members who are promoted to the rank of command staff (chief, assistant chief of administration and assistant chief of operations) will retain pension, active duty health and retiree health benefits afforded to Local 825 members.
The vacant assistant chief of operations position will be filled from the ranks of the bargaining unit for the life of the contract. The parties, however, agreed to submit this issue as a joint open question during the next round of negotiations.
The rank and file approved the proposed contract Sept. 6.
Read the previous contract here.
“The agreement represents a collaboration between the city and the union and is a valuable investment in New Haven’s public safety arena,” Thomas McCarthy, the city’s labor relation director, wrote to the alders.
©2019 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.)