Somersworth council approves contract with firefightersBy KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
June 19. 2018 9:22PM
SOMERSWORTH — Firefighters are celebrating after the city council unanimously approved a three-year contract with their union Monday night.
International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2320 has been without a contract for six years. Sixteen union members serve the city of about 11,800.
“The biggest thing we wanted was a decent cost-of-living increase,” union president Michael Spinney said Tuesday morning. “We’re excited to be moving forward with our day-to-day tasks without the worry of a cost-of-living increase.”
Since 2010, firefighters have received one 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment.
Under the new agreement, firefighters will get 3 percent immediately, 3 percent on July 1, then 2.5 percent in 2019 and 2.5 percent in 2020.
In exchange, they will contribute 5 percent more for health care over three years.
On May 7, firefighters and community members held signs outside City Hall before the council meeting, calling for a contract.
They did so again on May 21.
The sides met with a mediator June 4 and a contract was agreed upon. It went before the city council for ratification Monday night, Spinney said.
City Councilor Jonathan McCallion said Tuesday morning that suggested health care contributions have stopped a contract from getting to the council in the past because union members voted down the increases to their health care.
“This has been the first time we’ve had a contract in front of us for a long time,” McCallion said.
McCallion said public employees need to pay more for health care if they want cost-of-living increases in order for communities to stay under their tax cap, calling current health care costs “crazy.”
“Both sides wish it could have been done sooner,” he said, referring to getting a contract signed.
The agreement also includes a move to 24-hour shifts, which Spinney called a significant workplace improvement in a press release issued by the Professional Fire Fighters of NH in Concord.