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Fire contract ready to come up for vote

Jan. 19, 2011

Under a tentative contract reached by the city and the fire union, firefighters' wages would not increase in 2011.

In the give and take that comes with bargaining, the firefighters may see better incentives for working as a driver or paramedic, while paying more toward health insurance premiums. No expenses would be added to this year's city budget.

The Employee Relations Committee talked about the proposed ratification of the 2011-13 labor contract with Wauwatosa Professional Firefighters Association Local 1923 during a closed session Jan. 11. The committee held off on a decision and is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to recommend the contract.

Hank Wendt, fire union president, said he would hold off on comment until the Common Council addresses the proposed agreement in coming weeks.

Negotiations began in mid-September on a contract that addresses wages, benefits and management concerns. Wages would remain unchanged for 2011, but the contract calls for a 1 percent to 1.5 percent increases the following two years.

Health insurance cost sharing has proved a prominent issue in the city. The tentative agreement ups union members' premium contributions to 12 percent, or 6 percent if they participate in Wauwatosa's wellness program. By 2013, the contribution would reach 20 percent, or 10 percent with wellness. There also would be co-pays and deductibles required for outpatient surgery and tests and emergency room visits.

Some of the other proposed changes include allowing members to use city e-mail to conduct union business, adding spouses to the city's wellness program, nearly doubling the continuing education reimbursement and switching the holidays of Lincoln and Washington's birthdays with President's Day and Sept. 11.

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