Firefighters, city agree to tentative deal for raises
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
11/20/12 at 7:23 AM
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Firefighters and city leaders have averted arbitration by reaching a tentative agreement for 3 percent across-the-board raises retroactive to July 1, officials confirmed Monday.
The deal also includes going to 3 percent monthly stipends for firefighters with emergency medical technician or first responder certification rather than giving them a flat rate. That group is about 550 of the 678-member force.
Tulsa Firefighters Local 176 President Chad Miller said members are voting on the deal this week, with the results due Wednesday.
"I really don't anticipate there being any issues on our part, and I don't anticipate there being any issues on the city's part," he said. "It just has to go through the process."
Union officials had previously said they had come to an impasse in their talks with the city and expected to go to arbitration.
If that had happened, a third-party arbitrator would have decided what was fair, and the only way the city could have avoided fulfilling it would be to send it to a public vote.
Miller said Monday he's happy to avoid arbitration.
The union was seeking 3.5 percent raises, but it brought that down a bit and boosted the stipend amount, he said.
"This is pretty comparable to what we were ultimately seeking," Miller said. "It's a good, fair deal for everybody."
City Manager Jim Twombly agreed, saying that sometimes when a deal is struck, "one side or the other is holding their nose."
"But there's none of that here," he said. "Everyone feels like this is beneficial."
Earlier this month, the Tulsa World reported that the police union was offered by the city 3 percent raises retroactive to July, with another 1 percent pay bump coming in January.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93 members approved the deal overwhelmingly in a vote, and the contract will be formally signed Tuesday, FOP President Phil Evans said.
The lodge represents Tulsa's 782 sworn officers, including the 40 rookies now in the academy who are due to graduate in December.
Still in negotiation is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1180, which represents nearly 2,000 members in a variety of city of Tulsa work groups.
AFSCME can take it to arbitration but doesn't have the same power as with the public-safety unions in that the results are not binding.
The city has offered 2 to 3 percent one-time stipends for employees, but doesn't want to give raises.
Twombly said an independent study needs to be done on the classification and compensation of city workers.
That is expected to lead to changes to a number of positions in terms of pay grades and job descriptions.
Raises, at this point, would complicate that effort, Twombly said.
But AFSCME Local 1180 President Michael Rider said it's not fair to treat non-public-safety employees differently.
Even if the city did agree to raises, Rider said, workers would still be underpaid compared to those in peer cities.
What would the raise mean for a rookie firefighter?
Current salary: $34,747.26
With 3 percent retroactive to July 1: $35,789.68 (an increase of $1,042.42)
If they have EMT or first responder certification, they also would get a 3 percent monthly stipend of their monthly base wage.
Original Print Headline: Firefighters, city agree to tentative deal
Brian Barber 918-581-8322