Buffalo Fire Fighters Contract in Place After 11-Year Battle
June 28, 2013 – The contract between the City of Buffalo, New York, and Buffalo Local 282 is now official after the Common Council unanimously voted to approve it. This is the local’s first labor-management agreement since 2002.
“This victory has been too long in coming,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “Our guys have remained steadfast in their fight for a fair contract and their efforts have paid off. While there is still some work to be done, Local 282 members will have the benefit of workplace stability through 2017.”
“It is true that there are still significant unsettled issues, but we were able to protect some benefits that are important to us, and we obtained wage increases, making our base salaries comparable to cities similar to ours,” says Local 282 President Dan Cunningham.
For the majority of the last 11 years, Local 282 has been negotiating with Mayor Byron Brown’s administration. Over the course of that time, the two sides have only come close to an agreement twice – once in 2007 and again in 2008. However, the proposals were ultimately not approved because the agreements failed to offer fair compensation and address other vital concerns.
With some assistance from the IAFF, Buffalo Local 282 was finally able to reach an agreement with the City that both sides could live with. Over the years, the International has provided assistance as requested including support from President Schaitberger when he led a rally in November 2012 on the steps of City Hall demanding that contract issues be resolved.
Provisions of this contract include a 21.5 percent pay increase, 13.5 percent which is retroactive through last year and 2 percent each subsequent year. Fire fighters will also receive step-raises.
Local 282 members also maintain health insurance and retirees will retire with full health insurance. New hires will contribute 25 percent if they are single and 15 percent if married.
Some issues that remain unresolved include: no physicals in three years; no promotions in two years; 30 vacancies in the officer ranks; SCBAs have not been properly inspected in more than a year.
Local 282 won’t wait for the next round of contract negotiations to settle these concerns. It has already filed several grievances.
“None of these issues should be taken lightly because if they go unsettled, it puts the safety of the fire fighters and the public at risk,” says Cunningham.