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The East Greenwich Board of Fire Commissioners and local firefighters have agreed on a new three-year contract with an 18-month pay freeze and a 20 percent co-pay.
East Greenwich Firefighters Association Local 3328, affiliated with the International Association of Firefighters, ratified the new pact by majority vote three weeks ago, said Lt. Bill Perry, union president.
The commissioners then approved the contract at their meeting last Thursday.
â€śGiven the tough economic times, weâ€™re pleased to get the contract resolved,â€ť said Perry. â€śWe worked very hard with the commissioners, and negotiated a contract that was fair to both sides.â€ť
â€śIt was the culmination of a lot of hard work,â€ť said Scott Spear, the boardâ€™s legal counsel. â€śThe local stepped up to the plate under difficult conditions in a difficult time.â€ť
The contract, which expired on June 30, 2010, calls for firefighters to forego raises until Jan. 1, 2012, when they receive a 1.5 percent pay hike. They will receive another 1.5 percent raise on July 1, 2012.
During the contract, a rookie firefighterâ€™s pay will rise from $16.13 per hour to $16.62, while a four-year veteranâ€™s pay rises from $23.81 to $24.53. A lieutenantâ€™s pay goes from $26.26 to $27.05, while a captainâ€™s rises from $28.88 to $29.75.
The new 20 percent co-pay for Blue Cross health insurance will hit the firefighters hard, though: a 150 percent increase for a family plan. Perry estimated the cost of a family plan for the coming year at about $3,000, up from the current $1,200 flat rate.
The union and commissioners, however, are exploring a conversion from Blue Cross to health savings accounts.
â€śIt would save the district thousands of dollars and lower the cost of a family plan,â€ť Perry said.
The contract also calls for the removal of stipends for firefighters who have received endotrachial intubation (ET) certification as part of their rescue training. The contract calls for the current stipend, 2 percent of base pay, to be reduced to 1.5 and 1 percent over the final two years of the contract, then eliminated entirely.