The city of Delaware and its firefighters have agreed to a new three-year contract.
City Council unanimously approved a resolution on Monday to accept a collective bargaining agreement between Delaware and the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 606.
The previous three-year contract expired on March 31, 2015. Both parties met three times with a State Employment Relations Board mediator, but could not reach an agreement. A fact finder issued a report on Nov. 19, 2015, but council rejected her recommendations. A conciliator (arbitrator) had a hearing on 14 unresolved issues on Feb. 8-9, but eight remained unresolved.
On Feb. 22, final offers were sent to arbitrator Nels E. Nelson. The conciliation award, issued on March 11, included a 2 percent wage increase each year for three years. The union had wanted a 2.25 percent increase, saying that Columbus firefighters are receiving 3 and 3.5 percent raises. The city countered with a 2 percent raise, which the arbitrator accepted.
“While the wage increases in Columbus were substantially larger, they no doubt reflect particular circumstances,” the arbitrator’s report said. “In any event, it is not customary to compare the wages of a city of 35,000 with one of 789,000.”
Nelson said that on April 5, 2017, the salaries would be up to $74,485.50 for a firefighter; $76,621.27 for a firefighter/paramedic; $83,398.89 for a lieutenant; and $96,188.84 for a captain.
There is a difference in pay percentage by the ranks: 5 percent between the pay of a firefighter/paramedic over a firefighter; 2.5-to-10.9 percent of a lieutenant over a firefighter/paramedic; and a similar percentage for a captain over a lieutenant.
Of the eight unresolved issues, the arbitrator accepted the union’s final offer on three of them — continuation of existing benefits, vacancies and transfers, 40-hour employees; and the city’s final offer on the other five — pay ranges and rates, overtime policy, contracting out, time off, and promotions.
“I think I can speak for both sides that we’re pretty happy with the results,” city attorney Darren Shulman said to council. “Technically, that decision is binding, so we don’t have to vote on it. However, in the past, we have voted on it just to create a clear record as to why the contract is adopted. If you didn’t want to vote on it, it still is our contract.”
“Both sides believe the arbitrator’s decision was balanced,” states a joint statement issued by both parties. “The city and Delaware firefighters look forward to continuing to work diligently together to serve the citizens of Delaware.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.