Council Approves Funding for Firefighter, Dispatcher Contracts

The City’s firefighters and E-911 dispatchers have new three-year contracts.

Monday night, the City Council unanimously approved the funding sources to help pay for the proposed raises in the new contracts. Both contracts cover the three-year periods from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2024.

For the first time, the agreement with Chelsea Firefighters Local 937 includes a residency requirement.

“The most significant concession from the City’s perspective is the agreement by the fire union to accept, for the first time, a residency requirement, which was a specific demand of the City Council,” said City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. “The new residency requirement is identical to the residency provisions negotiated previously with the two police unions.”

The annual raises negotiated in the contract are also identical to the agreements for the two police unions, according to Ambrosino.

The contract includes a 2.75 percent raise for FY22, 2.75 percent for FY23, and in FY24, there is a 3 percent raise on July 1, 2023, and a 0.5 percent raise on Jan. 1, 2024. The total cost of all the wage increases over the next three years is approximately $1.8 million.

The contract also adds Juneteenth to the list of holidays, increasing the number of holidays from 12 to 13, and changes the annual clothing allowance from $1,100 to $1,200.

On Monday night, the City Council authorized the transfer of $289,000 from the city’s salary reserve account to FY22 fire department salaries account to help cover the cost of the negotiated raises for the current fiscal year.

The new contract for the E-911 dispatchers includes a 3 percent raise for FY22, 3.5 percent for FY23, and 3.5 percent for FY24. In addition, each member of the union will receive a signing bonus totalling $3,500; $2,500 allocated for FY20 and $1,000 for FY21.

Ambrosino said the salary increases are slightly higher than those that have been negotiated with other unions.

“The reason is that the E-911 dispatchers did not receive any percentage increase for either FY20 or FY21,” he said. “Thus, this financial package is actually covering five fiscal years. The total cost of all wage increases over these five years is approximately $308,000.”

As with the firefighters contract, there is a residency provision in the dispatcher contract that applies for 10 years.

The City Council authorized a transfer of $90,000 from the city’s reserve salary account to the FY22 emergency management salaries account to help cover the cost of the salary increases in the contract.

“I want to thank our City Manager, Tom Ambrosino,” said District 8 Councilor Calvin T. Brown. “Any time this summer I have been in his office, he’s been dealing with the contracts, and I know it is a lot of work he has spent on it that has gone unnoticed.”

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