Buffalo Grove, firefighters reach new deal after year of talks
After more than a year of working under an expired contract, Buffalo Grove firefighters have reached agreement with the village on a new four-year labor deal.
The village board Monday ratified the agreement with the Buffalo Grove Professional Firefighter/Paramedic Association Local 3177, for the period beginning May 1, 2013 and ending April 30, 2017.
"These things normally take a long time," Village President Jeffrey Braiman said. "I don't think it's unusual for this union contract or any other union contract to take what seems to be a significant amount of time.
"Obviously both sides just want to make sure it's done right."
The contract gives fire department employees represented by the union a 2 percent pay hike retroactive to May 2013 and another 2 percent raise retroactive to May 2014. The deal also allows either side to reopen the contract in March 2016 to renegotiate future salaries.
Fire Chief Terry Vavra said most of the changes in the new contract simply provide clarification of language in the old one. For example, the drug and alcohol policy was tightened to bring it more into line with the provisions for other village employees. The old policy had become "very cumbersome and very labor intensive," he said.
"It was a long process," Vavra said of the labor talks. "We were both digging our heels in, and then we both loosened up and said, 'Those aren't the hills we want to die on.'"
The agreement also clarifies the rules for secondary employment -- if, for instance, a firefighter works for another department.
"Before they come to work, they have to be off any secondary employment for at least eight hours," Vavra said.
The raises are consistent with those offered to other village employees, he said.