Whitehall, firefighters union agree on 2-year contract with 2% pay increases

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group

After a year of negotiations interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Whitehall City Council has approved a two-year contract with the city’s firefighters that includes 2% pay increases in 2020 and 2021. 

The deal will affect 35 employees and will cost the city $225,000 – with benefits packages included – over the course of the two-year accord. 

The Whitehall Municipal Building is at 360 S. Yearling Road.

The raise, approved by council Dec. 22 and adopted by the International Association of Fire Fighters, covers all firefighters, including captains and lieutenants. The raise is retroactive because the union members were working without a contract in 2021.

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It does not include the fire chief or assistant fire chief, who are part of management and not in the union. The department’s lone administrative clerk belongs to the Communications Workers of America union and is unaffected by the current raises.   

The last contract between the city and its firefighters was for three years and offered raises of 2.75% in each of the first two years and 2.5% for the final year. 

The last contract ended in December 2019; firefighters have been bargaining in good faith for the past 12 months, Mayor Kim Maggard said.

“We were still negotiating in early 2020, and then (COVID-19) hit,” she said. “We took a break to regroup until we all felt somewhat comfortable on how we would safely meet.”

Negotiations soon will start on the next contract, the mayor said.

Mark Simpson, president of IAFF Local 1720, representing Whitehall firefighters, agreed with Maggard that COVID-19 had made it difficult for everyone to sit down at the negotiating table. 

“I believe it was a good-faith negotiation,” said Simpson, who was not part of the negotiating team. “Both sides worked hard. Obviously, there were some bumps along the way. COVID played a big part in our ability to get together face-to-face.” 

gseman@thisweeeknews.com 

@ThisWeekGary