Middletown firefighters to get bigger raise in 2020

Middletown City Council approved an amendment in the collective bargaining agreement with IAFF Local 336 that would change the cost of living increase for 2020 from 2 percent to 2.5 percent for its final year of its three-year contract that expires on Dec. 31, 2020. City officials said they wanted to adjust the planned increase so that it reflects the amount of other increases granted to a majority of city employees. FILE PHOTO
Middletown City Council approved an amendment in the collective bargaining agreement with IAFF Local 336 that would change the cost of living increase for 2020 from 2 percent to 2.5 percent for its final year of its three-year contract that expires on Dec. 31, 2020. City officials said they wanted to adjust the planned increase so that it reflects the amount of other increases granted to a majority of city employees. FILE PHOTO

Middletown firefighters will receive a 2.5 percent cost of living increase effective Jan. 1 for the final year of their current contract.

Middletown City Council approved an amendment with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 336, which represents city firefighter employees for the cost of living increase.

Acting City Manager Susan Cohen said the city and union negotiated a contract in 2017 that provided for a 2 percent increase for 2020. However, since that negotiation, the city has awarded the majority of other employees 2.5 percent raises.

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“This would cause fire employees to lose pace with the other employees, and cause concern for morale.” she said. “In the past few years we have taken strides to make sure our employees are being treated equally and show that we value them.”

Cohen said the ordinance is an attempt to give the firefighters what has been given to other employees and maintain equity among the employee groups.

She said the current fire contract expires on Dec. 31, 2020 and the approximate cost of $35,000 for the raises has already been included in the 2020 general fund budget.

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After 14 months of negotiations, fact-finding and conciliation, Middletown and its bargaining units for police patrol officers and sergeants/lieutenants have a new two-year contract.

Police contracts are usually three years in length, but the city declined to sign off on retroactive back pay from the end of the last contract on Oct. 31, 2018. Officer Dennis Jordan, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 36, said that is “a sore subject with the (union) membership” and cost officers about $4,000 and $5,000 each in lost wages.

In the new contract that a State Employee Relations Board conciliator awarded, the 53 patrol officers and 10 sergeants in the bargaining units will receive a 3 percent raise on Jan. 1 and July 1 in 2020 and another 3 percent raise on Jan. 1, 2021. Middletown police adjusted its organization structure but does not use the lieutenant rank.

In September, City Council approved a three-year pact with its 48 public works employees represented by AFSCME Local 856 which amounts to a 2.5 percent wage increase for each year of the contract and bonus payments for the first two years of the contract.