West Dundee, fire department ink inaugural employment agreement
The seven newly unionized members of the West Dundee Fire Department have signed off on a three-year contract with the village that guarantees them 2 percent raises, additional pay to maintain certifications and other perks, Fire Chief Randy Freise said.
The village board this week unanimously approved the deal, which marked the first employment contract ever for the fire department.
West Dundee's fire department is comprised of seven full-time firefighters, 20 part-time firefighters, three lieutenants and the fire chief. Prior to the organization becoming a department in 1980, it was a fire protection district, Village Manager Joe Cavallaro said.
The seven full-timers unionized in 2011 because they wanted policies tailored to them, said Jim Amos, president of the West Dundee Professional Firefighters union, which falls within Local 4882 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
"The village was switching chiefs and we have a good relationship with the village itself and ... they have rules, but they're not channeled for the fire department directly," Amos said. "We just wanted to have something written up that pertains solely to the fire department."
The contract runs May 1, 2012 through April 30, 2015. With the raises, a new firefighter hired at a starting salary of $50,715 will make $51,729.30 the first year, $52,763.89 the second year and $53,819.16 the final year.
Firefighters could also earn a $600 stipend if their certifications enable them to join a special team within the department, such as dive rescue, HAZMAT and fire investigations. They can make another $25 per 24-hour shift if they fill in as shift commander when one of the lieutenants is off.
"It's nice because they're going above and beyond what's typically expected," Freise said.
"They get some extra compensation for doing the extra work."
Annual physicals will also be mandatory to ensure firefighters are fit.
Officials explained the process took nearly two years because the union is fairly new and it wanted to make sure the contract language was accurate.
"(It's) just making sure we get it right the first time, and that we didn't leave any problems out there," Amos said. "I definitely think it was a good process and it's something the village and the firefighters both can feel proud we got it done."