Lackawanna, firefighters reach tentative contract deal - The Buffalo News
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Lackawanna, firefighters reach tentative contract deal

The City of Lackawanna has reached a tentative deal with its firefighters on a new contract, although key details of the proposed pact haven’t been released.

City Attorney Antonio Savaglio revealed during a City Council meeting Monday that the negotiating sides had reached an agreement.

The Council went into executive session to discuss the negotiations.

The city’s 50 firefighters have been working without a new contract since 2009, and negotiations for the past year and a half have been tumultuous at times. The Lackawanna Fire Fighters IAFF Local 3166 in June filed an unfair labor practice claim against the city with the state Public Employment Relations Board.

A mediator had intervened in recent weeks.

Lt. Gary Strelczyk, secretary of the firefighter union’s executive board, confirmed that the negotiating team for the firefighters was ready to present a proposal to the membership.

“The negotiating team is definitely optimistic, but again it’s up to the body to vote. It’s to be determined,” he said.

Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski said in a telephone interview following the meeting that the city’s proposal is “fairly similar” to one offered to police officers in May.

Members of the police union received a 2.75 percent raise for this year and in 2014, and 3 percent raises in both 2015 and 2016. The deal also included retroactive pay raises of 2 percent for each of the last four years.

The proposal also calls for a return to a minimum crew of eight firefighters at three city fire stations, the mayor said.

Council members in recent months have heavily criticized the mayor for entering into a memorandum of agreement with the firefighters that raised the minimum complement to nine – a change that they said led to increased overtime costs in the department.

Savaglio has said that the memorandum of agreement should have come before the Council for approval, but the deal could be revoked only through negotiations or by having the Council rescind it.

The new firefighter contract would bring to a close negotiations with all of the city’s bargaining units.

Szymanski, who has appointed nine new firefighters in the department since taking office in 2012, expects overtime in the fire department to go down.

“We believe the overtime has been reduced already, because of the hiring of the new firefighters,” said Strelczyk.

The new contract won’t affect overtime, he added.

“We feel the overtime is caused by manpower, and we can’t address manpower in the contract.” he said.


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