Now that the firefighters have finally inked a five-year contract, they have only months before having to negotiate another deal.
The contract was approved by the City Council yesterday after a late-night deal was reached between the city and union on the eve of the council’s vote. The contract is retroactive from the last time the firefighters had a contract, which was 2006.
After the vote, the firefighters who packed the City Council chamber gave a standing ovation as union president Ed Kelly waved his hands in gratitude.
“As ugly as it got,” he said, “I can say with the utmost sincerity that it was worth it.”
During yesterday’s vote, the previously “ugly” tone changed as all sides thanked one another and gave each other credit for reaching an agreement.
The city and firefighters have battled over a contract for years. Earlier this year, an arbitration panel ruled and awarded the firefighters a 2.5 percent raise for random alcohol and drug testing. That sparked cries from city leaders who said they could not afford to pay the contract in difficult budget years.