Peoria Fire, city come to labor contract agreement: Focuses on wages, hours, work conditions

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The city of Peoria and the fire union have come to an agreement on a labor contract focusing on wages, hours and conditions of work that will take them into June 2023. 

The Peoria City Council approved a memorandum of understanding that will take affect July 1, 2020, right after the current contract expires.

Officials with United Peoria Firefighters Association Local 493 say the contract is market competitive in the areas of annual salary and total compensation package.

The agreement establishes a market adjustment each year for firefighters, fire engineers, and fire captains; increases employer contribution to the employee’s 457 retirement plan with employee match; increases paramedic pay; provides lump sum payments for the duration of the agreement at 10, 15, and 25 years to address the “retirement gap;” adjusts sick leave payout incentive into the 457 retirement plan; and allows one additional holiday leave bank day each year for the duration of the agreement only.

Human Resources Director Christine Nickel said the city is proud of the relationship it has with PFFA and the work they perform every day, as well as the  importance of providing competitive wages and benefits.

“We believe the contract meets the interests of PFFA and the city council,” she said. “More resources were applied to the top of the pay ranges for firefighter, fire engineer and fire captain in response to PFFA’s interest and current and anticipated placement over the next three years.”

The city and PFFA reached a tentative agreement, Oct. 3, and PFFA notified Peoria, Oct. 29, that their membership ratified the proposed contract.

Specifically, changes include an increase in employer contribution to members’ 457  retirement plan by $7.50 per pay period in the first two contract years and an increase in paramedic pay from $2.37 to $2.50 per hour.

Hunter Clare, president of PFFA Local 493, said the union represents 181 employees and the average career span of a firefighter in Peoria is 27.3 years.

More than 50% of Peoria Fire-Medical Department firefighters live in Peoria and pay Peoria taxes, he said.

Peoria staff studied 16 comparable Valley cities’ fire departments and found the maximum annual salary for the fire department as a whole is 4.33% ahead of the bottom and 9% behind the top.

The maximum annual salary for Peoria firefighters is 7% ahead of the bottom and 5% behind the top.

Councilman Bill Patena said the city wants to bring in good fire fighters and keep the ones it has.

“It is this council’s desire to keep Peoria as an employer of choice, and I think through this contract we have done that.”

Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697, phaldiman@newszap.com, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.

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