Firefighters make concessions under new contract
By Carolyn Marnon – Wayne firefighters recently approved a three-year contract with the City and made concessions to help the city during its financial crisis. “They came to the table with the best faith a labor union can,” said City Manager Lisa Nocerini.
Firefighters agreed to a 2% wage decrease. It has been over a decade since they’ve had a raise.
Firefighters will now pay 30% towards their health insurance; they had been paying 20%. They will now pay $6,000 annually for health insurance with a $2500 deductible. They will need to pay $8500 out of pocket before they will get 100% coverage.
The pension multiplier decreased from 2.7 for current employees and 2.5 for new hires to 2.25 for all fire employees. When determining pensions, the City takes the final three years of wages and uses the highest paid year of those three in the process.
The City is plagued by upcoming MERS (Municipal Employees’ Retirement System) payments. MERS uses outdated mortality tables in determining payments. There are approximately 200 Wayne retirees receiving pensions. Currently, Wayne has only 62 full-time employees paying into the pension fund; part-time employees do not pay into the fund. By 2022, Lisa Nocerini expects MERS payments by Wayne to be about $6.9 million which is equivalent to about 19.5 mils.
With the increased amount to health insurance and the wage decrease, the City expects to save $176,000 per year. Ms. Nocerini acknowledges that the firefighters gave up a lot to keep their jobs and help keep the city afloat.
The City applied for a SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) asking for six firefighters. With the recent approval of the grant, it provides funding for six firefighters for two years. After two years, the firefighters can be hired by the City or can be terminated. Any firefighters hired after grant approval will be hired through the SAFER grant. Wayne has one fire station which operates on 24-hour shifts. Wayne’s emergency personnel work one shift on, one shift off, one shift on, one shift off, one shift on and then four days off before the rotation begins again.