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City set to approve fire union contract

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Evanston’s City Council Monday is scheduled to approve a new four-year contract with the city’s firefighters union that will raise pay by 7.18 over its term.

A starting firefighter who now makes $58.043 a year will earn $62.210 in 2022, the final year of the contract.

The contract with the International Association of Fire Fighters local calls for no pay hike until Dec. 31 of this year, when a 1 percent pay hike would take effect. The very next day, Jan. 1, 2020, firefighters would receive another 1.5 percent pay boost — what amounts to a 2.52 percent increase for the second year of the agreement.

Then firefighters will receive 2.25 percent increases at the start of the third and fourth years of the agreement.

That’s equivalent, in terms of the total amount of pay union members would receive over the term of the agreement, to level increases of just over 1.43 percent per year and it leaves the city’s payroll cost at the end of the term equivalent to what it would be if a level annual increase of 1.75 percent had been granted.

That makes the agreement slightly richer for the firefighters than deals the city signed with AFSCME and the sergeants unit of the Fraternal Order of Police in February.

Those agreements called for increases of 0 percent, 1.5 percent, 2.5 percent and 3 percent over the four-year term. Under those deals the union members will see total compensation increases equivalent to level annual pay hikes of 1.25 percent, while the city’s payroll cost at the end of the term will be equivalent to what it would be if a level annual increase of 1.75 percent had been granted.

In  memo to aldermen Assistant City Manager Erika Storlie says the deal will help the city improve its financial situation.

In exchange for the lower pay hikes, the firefighters will get an additional 36 hours of comp time in each of the first three years of the agreement and an additional 24 hours of floating holiday time in 2022.

It also allows for an increase in employee contributions to insurance premiums starting in 2020.

The city has yet to reach agreement with its fourth bargaining unit, the Fraternal Order of Police local representing patrol officers.

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