The Rolling Meadows City Council on Monday voted 4-3 to approve a new contract with the city's firefighters' union.
The contract, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, includes no increase in the salary schedule the first year, but then gives 2 percent each year for 2014 and 2015. The raise percentages are the same as those worked out in October with representatives of the city's police officers.
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A starting firefighter/paramedic receives $58,000 a year. After seven years' service, that salary goes to $95,998 in 2015. A Step 1 lieutenant will receive 5 percent more than the firefighter/paramedic with seven years' service.
The two contracts with police and firefighters will cost the city an additional $471,000 over the life of the contracts, Mayor Tom Rooney said.
"I believe this contract falls within the circle of what I consider acceptable," Rooney said.
Alderman Brad Judd of the fourth ward said the city's firefighters do a good job, but he found the negotiation process "demoralizing." He talked about the expense of the salaries and pensions, saying the average salary of Rolling Meadows residents is about $60,000. He also said that the union refused to negotiate on some issues.
"We did good for the residents, toeing the line as well as we could," Judd said, "but we didn't get any help from the other side. Your taxes are never, ever, ever going to go down."
Alderman Mike Cannon of the first ward and John D'Astice of the sixth ward also each voted against the contract.
Rick Acosta, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3075, issued a statement saying the union made concessions during difficult economic times, that the new contract is in line with those in surrounding communities, and the union negotiated "diligently" for 20 months.
"Over the last three years, we have agreed to over $400,000 in contract concessions," Acosta said in the statement. "In addition to those cuts, we have agreed to forego any raise in the first year of this contract, followed by two years of 2 percent raises, below the last two years' rate of inflation. Also, we have agreed to stretch the number of years it takes for a firefighter to achieve top pay from five to seven years, leading to further substantive savings for the city."
The 39 members of the union will vote on the contract Dec. 11, Acosta said.