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Elyria Firefighters contract detailed

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ELYRIA — Details of the city’s contract with its firefighters union were released Tuesday after City Council’s approval of the one-year agreement.

The International Association of Firefighters Local 474, which represents the Elyria Fire Department, ratified the contract on Thursday, and City Council approved the contract during its meeting Monday.

Mayor Holly Brinda said Tuesday she erred when she told a Chronicle-Telegram reporter on Monday that the union had yet to vote on the contract. An incorrect entry on her schedule was to blame, she said.

The parties reached a tentative agreement Dec. 3. A message seeking comment on the new contract was left Tuesday for Local 474 President Dean Marks.

The one-year contract, running through Dec. 31, 2019, includes a 2.5 percent wage increase, minor changes to hospitalization, a one-time $250 stipend for certified paramedics and changes in shift-differential payments, among others.

City Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said the changes to hospitalization insurance coverage brought the fire union’s contract “in line with all others” governing city unions. Shift differential payments also are now in line with those in the Elyria police union contract, she said.

The previous 14 percent shift differential was increased to 15.25 percent for fire lieutenants, 15 percent for fire captains and 14.75 percent for assistant fire chiefs, according to the contract.

Military leave language also changed to reflect that in the police union’s contract. Though there are not any firefighters now away on military leave, Siwierka said, those who might be called to active duty would continue to receive fringe benefits for one year, regardless of whether they are still receiving a city paycheck. After one year, insurance benefits continue for a second year as long as the covered employee pays the full premium to the city, according to the contract.

Employees also must continue to pay their health insurance premiums while on unpaid sick leave or personal leave to continue on the city’s health insurance plan, according to the contract. That’s in keeping with Family Medical Leave Act rules, Siwierka said.

The one-time $250 certification stipend will appear in paramedics’ paychecks during the first pay period in July, according to the contract.

The union also agreed to a city proposal to eliminate “fair share fee” deductions and obligations from the contract, according to a summary of the agreement provided by city officials. Such fees, paid by public sector employees who choose not to join the union but still enjoy the benefits of union representation, were struck down in February by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Janus v. AFSCME decision.

The minimum increments for holiday and floating holiday time were increased from one or two hours to four hours, and minimum sick leave increments rose from 30 minutes per use to 60 minutes per use, in accordance with other city union contracts.

In health care coverage language, employee health care contributions went from $33.75 for single employees and $67.50 for family to a four-tier system: $66.91 single; $115.30 for employee plus spouse; $101.22 for employee plus children; and $133.77 for family.

The “adequate total reserve balance” for health and hospitalization increased from $200,000 to $1 million and spousal exclusion thresholds — also known as the “spousal carve-out” or “working spouse rule,” which restricts health coverage for spouses already covered by or eligible for other plans — increased from $125 to $150 per month.

Contact Dave O’Brien at (440) 329-7129 or do’brien@chroniclet.com. Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.


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