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posted: 10/28/2013 10:34 PM

Wheeling OKs firefighter-paramedics union contract

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The Wheeling Village Board approved Monday a new three-year contract with the firefighters union.

The 45 firefighter-paramedics will receive raises of 2.5 percent this year retroactive to May 1, the same percentage increase next year, and 2.75 percent hike effective May 1, 2015.

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With this year's new schedule, firefighter-paramedics start at $61,302 and advance to $87,559 with five years of service. Lieutenants start at $72,187 and go to $102,156.

"It was fair and worked out really well, everybody won," said Village President Dean Argiris, even though the two sides did not reach agreement until they employed a mediator.

"Mediation was over some small stuff," Argiris said. "It wasn't the pay scale. It was about an extra holiday. They got that, and they gave us some on health care."

Labor Day becomes a fifth holiday where union members who work receive extra pay. Health insurance members will pay more for deductibles in the preferred provider organization plan and a higher co-pay for prescription drugs in the health maintenance organization plan.

The village board approved the contract without comment. The union members approved the contract Oct. 16.

The pay increase is in the middle of 15 comparable municipalities that the participants studied, said Adam Gambro, treasurer of Local 3079 of the International Association of Firefighters.

"I couldn't be more happy with how everything turned out," Gambro said. "Both sides did everything to get to an agreement. The village is, and has been, very pro-union."

Argiris said the village would prefer to get contract talks settled before the old one expires but doesn't remember that ever happening. He said contracts for village police officers and public works employees are up for renewal next year.

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