Philadelphia firefighters’ contract could be appealed again

Philadelphia’s firefighters have won another round in contract arbitration.  It’s not clear if this settles the matter.

The award gives Philadelphia firefighters three percent raises a year for three years.  Union head Bill Gault is hoping the city will approve the deal.

“The arbitrator’s newly issued contract award is fair,” said Gault. “The economics remain largely unchanged from the last award. Neither side got everything it desired and it’s our sincere hope that the city accepts this award and does not appeal it again.”

The city lost the right to impose unpaid furlough days, while the firefighters lost the opportunityto live outside the city.  

Finance Director Rob Dubow says the administration is still reviewing the award, but says there is no money in the current city budget to pay for raises.

“The budget assumes that any additional costs that came out of any collective bargaining agreements would come out of savings in those agreements.”

Gault says the award would cost about $66 million over four years.  He says that’s just a little more than the money Philadelphia is saving over the same period of time by “browning out” fire houses.  That’s the name given to closing fire stations for a day on a rotating basis to save money without having to shutter more fire stations permanently.

The firefighters isn’t the only union with a drawn out contract dispute.  Despite on and off negotiations, Philadelphia’s blue and white collar unions have been working without a contract for three years.

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