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Fairview Park reaches contract with firefighters but not police, service unions

By KEVIN KELLEY
FAIRVIEW PARK

Fairview Park City Council unanimously approved a new three-year contract with the city’s firefighters union at a special meeting Aug. 14. Council is ordinarily on recess in July and August.

However, the city has reached an impasse with unions representing the suburb’s police officers, police patrolmen and patrolwomen, and service workers.

The firefighters contract, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017, includes raises of 2 percent annually over the three-year deal.

The administration of Mayor Eileen Patton has offered the same terms to the police and service unions, but their leadership has rejected such a deal.

The main impasse surrounds requests by those unions that the city contribute more to employees’ health savings accounts, Patton said.

Bruce Mihalak, a sergeant with the police department and a union director representing the its officers, confirmed the impasse surrounds health care costs. (A separate union represents the patrolmen, but the two unions negotiate together.) He noted two fact finders reports sided with the police unions on the health care issue.

According to the factfinders report, the city offered annual contributions to health savings accounts of $1,300 for those under the single plan and $2,600 for those under the family plan. That amount was ultimately agreed to by the firefighters union.

Factfinder Carol J. Bader recommended the HSA contributions to police equal 75 percent of the plans’ deductible in the final year of the contract. If deductibles remain the same, the HSA contributions would be $1,950 for those on the single plan and $3,900 for the family plan.

Mihalik said the police unions made a counter offer that gave employees additional vacation time in lieu of greater health care payments, but that the city rejected that offer.

With regard to premiums, the city wants police to contribute 14 percent and the police unions agreed to pay 1 percent more. The factfinder recommended employees contribute 15 percent.

AFSCME Local 2681, the service workers union, asked for HSA contribution equal to $500 less the the family plan deductible and $250 less than the single plan deductible. Factfinder Gregory James Van Pelt recommended this proposal. The city and service workers agree premium contribution by employees be 14 percent.

In June, City Council voted 6-1 to reject the fact finders reports on both the police and service unions negotiations. Council President Mike Kilbane was the lone vote to accept the report.

The Patton administration has scheduled additional talks with the police and service unions. Binding arbitration sessions with the police unions are scheduled to begin in October.

Mihalik said he held a small hope that the meetings may result in a deal before the matter goes to binding arbitration.

Patton said negotiations with the service department union were delayed when the previous regional union leader relocated to Florida during talks.

Under the contract with Local 1057 of the International Association of Professional Firefighters, the lowest ranking firefighter will earn a base salary of $49,409 annually in 2009. A captain will earn $93,847.

The remainder of the contract with is essentially unchanged from the previous deal, Mayor Eileen Patton said, with one exception. If health care costs rise by more than 5 percent from the previous year, the health insurance cost containment committee will reconvene to consider redesigning the plan to reduce costs.

Under the contract, firefighters will pay 15 percent of the cost of the medical insurance plan.

Firefighters will also receive longevity payments equal to $100 for each year of full-time service after in his or her fifth year. The longevity payments continue up to a $2,500 payment at the 25th anniversary with the department.

Firefighters’ typical workweek is 49.8 hours, consisting of 24 hours on duty followed by 48 hours off duty. Under the contract, firefighters’ vacation time ranges from two weeks after their first year to six weeks after 23 years of tenure.

 

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