De Blasio, firefighters’ union reach contract resolving feud
The union representing New York City firefighters reached a contract deal with Mayor Bill de Blasio, officials announced Thursday, resolving a feud over disability benefits, adding 20 five-member engine companies and providing 11 percent raises over seven years.
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy, who represents about 8,000 city firefighters, said he was confident his members would ratify the proposed contract.
“I think that we got the best deal possible,” he said at a City Hall press conference. “We think that we have a deal that we could not walk away from.”
The deal marks the 11th uniformed union to strike an agreement with the de Blasio administration.
The agreement for the rank-and-file firefighters, who have gone without a contract since 2010, also provides that the mayor will back new state legislation to restore disability benefits up to 75 percent for about 1,700 firefighters hired after 2009.
A state law had reduced the benefit for firefighters hired after 2009 and injured on the job to 50 percent — a move Cassidy and the head of the union representing city police officers had fiercely fought. Under the new agreement, the legislation would restore the benefits for those members but also require them to contribute an additional 3 percent.
The union had previously rejected a compromise agreement, ushered hastily through the city council, and received the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the issue. Officials said the legislation could pass as soon as January.
“Today’s agreement means that these brave men and women will receive the fair wages and disability protections they need and deserve, while ensuring New York City’s taxpayers are protected,” de Blasio said in a statement.
The city’s largest police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, is currently in arbitration over their contract.
Union president Patrick Lynch said Thursday that “New York City police officers perform a very different job” than firefighters and that the union would await the results of binding arbitration from the contract dispute.
“We believe substantial raises are essential to move police officers toward a competitive market wage,” he said in a statement.
The union representing correction officers have similarly not yet reached a deal.
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