The City of Atlanta administration has announced a plan to raise fire fighter base pay by 25 percent over the next three years. It’s the result of a three-year effort to bring Atlanta fire fighter pay up to a level comparable with cities of similar size.
“It’s been 15 years since our last major wage increase, and the gap between our department’s wages and others similar to ours had become quite wide,” says Local 134 President Paul Gerdis. “We are pleased that we were able to come together to find an amicable resolution.”
Atlanta is not only home to a half million people, but the city also attracts millions of visitors every year.
Atlanta Local 134 leaders say it is critical that the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department attract and retain experienced fire fighters, paramedics and EMTs. However, for the last several years, Atlanta Fire Rescue personnel have been making significantly lower wages than their counterparts in comparable cities, which has made retention challenging.
The push to narrow the wage gap began in earnest in 2016. With a seat at the table, Local 134 leaders, city administration and fire department management representatives worked to try to find a solution.
The issue gained even more traction when Keisha Lance-Bottoms was elected mayor in 2018.
“Mayor Lance-Bottoms made her support for the wage increase known from the beginning, but we still needed the data to show that we were, in fact, underpaid,” says Gerdis. The local asked the Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation, a non-profit organization associated with the fire department, to fund a study, which found that Local 134 members were underpaid by a significant amount.
At that point, all interested parties, including Atlanta members, collaborated to create a wage increase plan. The
result was a $15.6 million plan aimed to increase pay over the next three-and-a-half years. This equates to a 25 percent increase in pay for Local 134 members.
The raise is effective in January 2020.