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Baltimore Mayor & Fire Unions Reach Agreement On New Contract

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After months of tough negotiations, the mayor and Baltimore’s fire unions finally reached an agreement on a new contract, which was approved Tuesday evening.

Monique Griego has more on the new changes in the 3-year contract.

In March, the unions rejected the city’s first proposal. Under this new agreement, firefighters would work more hours per week but would also get a pay raise.

Months of tense contract negotiations between Baltimore firefighter unions and the city are finally over.

“This is a win-win for everybody involved,” said Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott.

Councilman and Vice Chairman of the Public Safety Committee Scott says this week, both sides reached an agreement. It would increase firefighters’ hours from 42 to 47.5 a week, including some 24-hour shifts.

In exchange, firefighters get a 16.5 percent pay hike. The changes are part of the mayor’s 10-year plan to decrease the city’s deficit.

Moving firefighters to a longer work week could save the city around $72 million over nine years.

“Any time where you can give to your employees who risk their lives every day, and save the taxpayers, everyone should come away happy,” Scott said.

The new schedule proposed in this new agreement will make the work hours of Baltimore firefighters more similar to what other big cities are doing.

Firefighters will be on duty for 24 hours, off duty for the next 24 hours, and on duty for the subsequent 24 hours. Then, employees will remain off duty for five days. Every 32 days, an extra 24-hour shift will be scheduled during the middle of the 5-day down time.

This will result in a 12.5 percent increase in hours worked. The new shifts start Jan. 1.

Tuesday, union members voted to pass the deal. In March, they overwhelmingly rejected the last one, largely due to the mayor’s wish to cut 300 firefighter jobs through attrition.

Back then, union president Rick Hoffman said, “This city is cut bare bones. We’re barely hanging on with what we have.”

The deal also states no firefighters can be laid off or demoted because of the changes.

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