Balto. Co. firefighters set to vote on contract

Deal offers $2,300 raise, two more paid holidays

February 24, 2004|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Members of the Baltimore County firefighters' union are scheduled to vote tomorrow on a contract that would give each of them a $2,300 raise and two additional paid holidays.

If they approve the one-year deal, firefighters would receive the across-the-board raises in two installments - the first $1,150 in July when the contract would take effect and the second in June 2005, union and county officials said.

The county's 1,000 unionized firefighters also would receive holiday pay for Memorial and Labor days, under the tentative pact. And for the first time, the contract would spell out a "firefighters bill of rights" for disciplinary procedures, said Michael K. Day Sr., president of the Baltimore County Professional Fire Fighters Association.

The deal, which is expected to cost the county $1.6 million, also includes monetary incentives for firefighters with specialized medical and rescue training, county Labor Commissioner George E. Gay said.

In September, County Executive James T. Smith Jr. granted raises of 4 percent to 5 percent to some commanders in the Fire and Police departments. Those raises also take effect in July.

Although the increase offered to the firefighters' union is $200 less than what police received in their new contract, Day said, "in these economic times, we got a pretty fair shake from the Smith administration."

The firefighters' current agreement expires June 30. The new deal would take effect July 1 if it is approved by firefighters and paramedics, who will cast their ballots tomorrow afternoon and evening at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

The firefighters and paramedics didn't receive across-the-board cost-of-living raises last year, but did get incremental and longevity "step" increases.

The negotiations, which began in November, were the first between the firefighters and the county since a new county law gave police and fire unions the right to binding arbitration.

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