WARREN — Unionized city firefighters approved a fact-finders’ report that recommends they each receive two payments of $500.
John Jerina, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 204 that represents the 48 firefighters, said Monday union members voted 43-5 to approve the recommendation for the city to make the payments in lump sums this July and next.
City Council voted 9-0 last week against the report.
Jerina said the union and city will now go to conciliation with each side ”putting its best offer forward and letting the conciliator make the final decision.”
Jerina said he was not surprised by council’s vote
Fact finder Daniel G. Zeiser, a Cleveland-area attorney, had previously said the city wants firefighters to pay a 15 percent premium for their health care contributions, with no cap. This would be 5 percent higher than what is paid by other city unions that have caps of $50 per month for single coverage and $100 per month for family coverage.
He had previously said the fact-finders’ report also calls for firefighters, as requested by the union, to get the same health care benefits other city employees receive.
The city’s argument is it is trying to make up for the increased cost of the pension pickup.
Warren Councilman Al Novak, chairman of the police / fire committee and vice chairman of finance committee, said both committees were against the recommendation. Novak said his main concern has been that all the other unions and employees have agreed to a wage freeze. He said voters already approved an income tax hike in November.
”I made a promise to the taxpayers that I would vote for wage freeze if the income tax was passed. I want to do what is best for the taxpayers,” he said.
Novak said the city does not have the money for the two payments. He pointed out the police department has taken a reduction in its ranks.
The firefighters’ union is the only one that did not agree to a contract with the…