Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin this morning said the two bargaining units representing Fresno firefighters have agreed overwhelmingly to a salary concession that will help balance the city’s budget.
Swearengin said 91% of the fire department’s management and non-management employees who took part in a recent vote cast ballots supporting changes to the union’s contract.
Swearengin said the changes will save the city’s general fund about $660,000 in this fiscal year. Swearengin also announced that the Fresno City Employees Association has approved a new three-year contract that includes a wage reduction in this fiscal year.
The sacrifices made by the firefighters and the white-collar workers will save the general fund nearly $1 million this fiscal year, Swearengin said.
City Hall needs to close a $3 million general fund budget gap in the next few weeks. Swearengin praised the firefighters and white-collar workers for helping her administration fill about a third of that gap.
“I want to thank them on behalf of the people of Fresno,” Swearengin said.
Swearengin has asked all of the city’s unions to take a 3% wage cut this fiscal year. She is counting on a concession from the Fresno Police Officers Association for the last $2 million.
Assistant City Manager Bruce Rudd said the firefighters’ deal calls for a one-year 2.5% wage cut beginning in August and changes in the scheduling of vacation that will generate more savings. In total, Rudd said, the deal works out to the 3% cut that the Swearengin administration wanted. The firefighters will get a small raise in Fiscal Year 2013, Rudd said.
The FCEA deal, which has been public knowledge for more than a week, calls for a 3% wage cut in this fiscal year, then two years of modest raises.
The challenge for Swearengin is that the FPOA’s current contract is much different than the old contracts for the firefighters and white-collar workers. The firefighters’ contract expires on June 30, 2012, and negotiations on a new deal would have begun next spring. If those talks had reached an impasse, the administration eventually could have imposed conditions that were more drastic than what the firefighters have now embraced.
The white collar workers’ contract expired June 30. The FCEA had even less negotiating leverage than the firefighters, and their new three-year deal guarantees that members’ wages eventually will return to levels of fiscal year 2011.
The police, however, have a contract in place through June 30, 2015. Police union officials have noted that their members have already made four contract concessions in the past three years to help fix budget crises.
Without across-the-board wage cuts, Swearengin has said, her administration and the City Council will have to consider general fund budget cuts that include more extensive employee furloughs, the closing of two fire stations and reductions in the Senior Hot Meals program.
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