PARMA, Ohio – After months of negotiations, city council has approved a new three-year contract with Parma Fire Department Local 639.
The deal calls for the 104-member fire department to receive a 3% increase in 2021 (retroactively) and 2022, as well as 2.25% in 2023.
“We entered into negotiations earlier this year addressing non-monetary issues and language cleansing,” said Mayor Tim DeGeeter. âWhen it came to money, like any other collective bargaining process, we went back and forth.
âWe were happy to see that the firefighters union ratified and the city council approved the proposed union contract that was established during negotiations,â he said.
International Association of Fire Fighters Local 639 President Anthony Hyatt added, âI would describe this negotiation as one of the easiest and fastest we have had since being involved in the process.
âMuch of it was dealt with without lawyers on both sides. It was adopted by a majority of my members and board members, which was a good sign that everyone was happy with it. “
A key part of the new contract is a one-time pensionable payment of $ 3,500 to firefighters this year.
Parma’s director of public security Thomas Weinreich said it was a performance bonus.
âIt’s the product of a number of things,â DeGeeter said. âWe are able to use the recovery dollars (ARPA) that we have received. It is an eligible expense. It’s one-time money for them and it doesn’t add anything to the base.
As for the increases, Parma auditor Brian D. Day said they will add an additional $ 227,299 (2021), $ 147,344 (2022) and $ 113,823 (2023) to the city’s budget each year.
âRemember that the reason for the larger increase in 2021 is the result of a change in the fire department‘s staged process in this contract,â Day said. âPreviously, they progressed in five stages, which have now been shortened to three stages.
“With stages 1 and 2 having a higher salary than the previous one, there is no percentage increase until stage 3.”
Weinreich said the move from the five-tier pay system to a three-tier model was about recruitment and retention.
âWe currently have firefighters who are starting at a starting rung, and then each of the first five years would get a rung increase,â Weinreich said. âIt would take them five years to achieve the best firefighter salary.
“We have reduced that to three stages, which increases starting salaries by about $ 3,500 (to $ 55,000) and allows a firefighter to achieve the best salary in three years instead of five.”
DeGeeter added, âThe idea is to try to hold back the firefighters. It seems that this generation of firefighters – unlike years past when you join a service and stay there until you retire – you see them jumping all over the place.
Another part of the contract was additional paid leave, which is the seventh enjoyed by firefighters in Parma.
âInstead of Juneteenth, they went for Christmas Eve,â Weinreich said. âIt’s a win-win because it encourages working over the Christmas Eve vacation and could potentially help us fill that shift without necessarily having to pay overtime. “
The mayor said that overall, city leaders are happy with the new contract for first responders, who have been busy during the pandemic.
âThey were in nursing homes and hospitals throughout the pandemic,â DeGeeter said. âIt continues here with the delta strain.
âWe think the contract is fair. We came and went; this is how collective bargaining is set up, âhe said.
âThis time, we were able to come to an agreement without having to resort to arbitration, where there are additional expenses and there is an unknown that could come out of it. So here is where we landed. City officials felt it was comfortable and durable.
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