Grandview Heights firefighters receive 3% pay increase in new contract

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group

Grandview Heights firefighters will receive a 3% increase in their base salaries for the next three years through a new contract with the city.

Grandview Heights City Council unanimously approved the contract Dec. 21. The contract runs from Dec. 20, 2020, through Dec. 18, 2023.

Grandview Heights welcome sign

The agreement was approved Nov. 30 by members of the Grandview Heights firefighters union, the International Association of Firefighters Local 1792, city finance director Megan Miller said.

The previous three-year contract, which expires at the end of this year, provided firefighters with a 3.25% pay increase in each of the three years.

The base salary for a Grandview firefighter/EMT 5 (top pay) is $88,710.93, Miller said.

Under the new contract, the city will continue to pay 85% of the health and dental insurance premiums for firefighters. The union members pay the remaining 15%.

Before council's vote on the contract, Mayor Greta Kearns said the agreement between the city and firefighters was fair for both sides.

The contract includes a new provision that will offer firefighters paid parental leave in a policy that will be implemented by the end of January 2021.

Council member Melanie Houston said she was pleased the parental-leave component was added to the contract.

It was a concept she had been advocating for the past several years, she said.

The policy will be applied for all city employees, Houston said.

"It will be helpful for us to recruit and retain really talented people, especially women, to our (police and fire) forces and to our city staff," she said. 

Adding the paid-parental-leave policy is also an example of how local governments can take a leadership role "especially when we haven't seen a paid-parental-leave policy at the state or federal level," Houston said.

"It's leadership in terms of gender equity, promoting family health and improving infant mortality rates," she said. "A lot of great research demonstrates the importance of parental paid leave."

Other central Ohio governments have paid-parental-leave policies, Miller said. It is typically a policy for all employees and not part of a union contract.

Fire Chief Greg Eisenacher said the negotiations between the city and the firefighters union were "very amicable."

"As the new fire chief who just started in May and who has been involved in negotiations before, I was pleased at how everyone came to the table with a willingness to work together to get a contract that was fair and beneficial to both sides," he said. 

Both sides demonstrated a spirit of cooperation, which isn't always the case in negotiations, he said.

The goal was to get an agreement before the current contract expired, and that was accomplished, he said.

"That was a priority on the city's side as a sign of appreciation for the job our firefighters do," Eisenacher said. "We didn't want to have to do this contract retroactively."

The union members came to the table "well prepared and having done a lot of research," he said. "It really was a smooth negotiation."

The paid-parental-leave component also was a priority of the administration, not only as a benefit to offer to the firefighters but also to be available to all city employees, he said.

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