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Compensation for Wauwatosa fire supervisors up for debate

Dec. 20, 2011

The Common Council will decide tonight whether to change pension and health insurance contributions, as well as whether to make wage adjustments, for fire supervisors to keep them on par with what the fire union negotiated in its new contract.

State law requires that supervisors - in this case the chief, his two assistants and three deputies - pay the same 3 percent pension contribution that was negotiated for 2012 by the fire union.

Under the state budget-repair bill, police and fire workers aren't automatically required to contribute to their pensions like others who lost the ability to collectively bargain earlier this year.

The fire contract bumps up all fire union and fire supervisors to nearly 6 percent contributions for 2013, eventually bringing their contribution to the same level that most city employees have been paying at since August.

The police union and city haven't settled on a contract so there is no pension contribution coming from police union or supervisory employees at this point, City Administrator James Archambo said.

State law doesn't dictate equality in other areas of compensation, he said. However, in an effort to keep firefighters from making more than their chiefs, the Employee Relations Committee unanimously recommended supervisors move to a 5 percent premium contribution in 2012 and 10 percent in 2013.

In addition, the chiefs would receive 3 percent cost-of-living raises in 2012 and 2013.

Fire Chief Rob Ugaste encouraged the committee to support the changes because his chief staff worked with the union to come to agreeable terms. With the pension contribution equating to the pay raise and a higher health premium contribution, all fire employees will be taking a hit, but an equal one.

"My staff placed themselves in harm's way to do what they think is right," Ugaste said. "I think they deserve the same deal."

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