Aldermen advanced an agreement Thursday that would give Chicago firefighters $95 million in back pay, but puts off fraught negotiations over how fire stations should be staffed.
Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 ratified the tentative agreement with 76% of the vote, chief labor attorney for the city James Franczek told members of the City Council’s Workforce Development Committee, which unanimously endorsed the deal. The full City Council is set to vote on the deal Wednesday.
The deal is retroactive to July 1, 2017, when the last labor agreement between the city and the firefighters union expired, and will last until June 30, 2021. The deal calls for firefighters to get a 10% raise during the term of the agreement, in keeping with pay hikes won by other unions that represent city workers.
The deal leaves the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7, which represents most rank-and-file Chicago Police officers as the only major union without a new deal.
In return for annual pay hikes ranging from 2% to 2.25% through Jan. 1, 2022, both retired and active duty firefighters will contribute more toward their health care coverage, saving the city $10 million during the duration of the agreement, Franczek said.
The deal also calls for the city to expand its fleet of ambulances from 75 to 80, additional protective gear for firefighters and up to two additional days of vacation for firefighters with more than 25 years of service.
The deal does not change a rule that requires every piece of fire equipment to be staffed by at least five employees. The agreement calls for the current staffing requirements to stay in place until Jan. 1, 2022.
Aldermen also approved a new deal for members of the Public Safety Employees Union, Unit II, which includes traffic control aides, crossing guards, aviation security officers and police communications operators. The deal, which is retroactive to January 2018 and expires Jan. 1, 2022, calls for employees to get a 10.5% raise during the term of the agreement.
The deal also increases employee’s health care contributions by 1.5% during the life of the agreement.