Firefighters approve tentative contract

The city’s firefighter’s union has voted “overwhelmingly” to approve a tentative agreement with the city on a new contract, according to local union President Bryson Peterman.

Given the restrictions of the city’s Act 47 distress recovery plan, the deal will have “a significant impact to current and future employees,” Peterman wrote Friday in an email.

He couldn’t disclose terms of the deal, pending potential approval by City Council at its next scheduled meeting Wednesday, he said.

The city had previously predicted the contract would go to arbitration.

Originally, there was a plan to hold an arbitration hearing before the end of 2013, which is when the current contract expired.

Then there was a session scheduled at the end of this month.

But the union never wanted to go to arbitration, Peterman said.

Peterman previously said the union had offered to comply with the three-year wage and longevity payment freezes the plan called for “among a long list of other concessions.”

The members can each expect to make up to $5,000 less next year, he said previously.

The members still “do a great deal for the city for free on our own time,” including honor guard work for parades and funerals, firefighter candidate testing and construction of a pavilion at Prospect Pool, he said.

There is also hazardous materials training, an outreach to prevent juvenile fire-setting and fire prevention work in schools, he said.

The union seems not to have much choice, as Act 47 recovery plans supersede even arbitration rulings on contracts.

City Manager Omar Strohm did not return a call for comment.

“I’m waiting to hear if the final contract has been ratified,” Councilman Dave Butterbaugh said.