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Fire department gets 'cost-of-living' adjustment

Fire dept. gets raise, health benefit approval

Tim Farley October 22nd, 2013

Oklahoma City firefighters received a wage increase and increased health benefits as part of a union agreement approved by the city council Tuesday.

The wage hike averaged 2.6 percent across the board depending on a firefighter’s rank, said Phil Sipe, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 157 in OKC.

This was basically a cost-of-living adjustment,” he said. “I think the new contract is reasonable. The city is happy with it and we’re happy with it. As far as the taxpayers are concerned, it’s a win-win all the way around.”

The wage adjustments were determined after a peer cities market survey was completed, said Monica Coleman, OKC’s assistant personnel director.

I can’t say we had any major disputes with them (union negotiators),” she said.

According to the contract, pay increases ranged from 2.23 percent for district chiefs to 3.47 percent for sergeants/drivers.

The two sides reached a tentative agreement Sept. 3 and it was ratified by the union membership Oct. 11.

City negotiators agreed to pay an additional $334 in health benefits for each firefighter enrolled in the union’s insurance program.

As part of the new pact, which is retroactive to July 1, the city will pay for probationary permanent employees who are required to attend EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) classes during off-duty time at a cost of $48,500.

The new union contract will increase the city budget by $2.9 million. The new fire department budget for the current fiscal year will be $103.1 million compared to $100.1 million in fiscal year 2012-2013.

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