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Published: Friday, 7/24/2009

Firefighters OK pension concessions in new pact

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A union representing Toledo firefighters ratified a new contract with the city yesterday that includes givebacks on pension benefits and a two-tier system for future recruits.

Members of Toledo Firefighters Local 92 voted 214 to 141 in favor of the contract, with turnout at 78 percent, President James Martin said.

The three-year contract is expected to save the city $1.82 million through 2009 and $3.74 million in 2010, as long as 40 new firefighters are hired that year to reduce overtime.

Despite those savings, the city faces a projected $8.65 million general-fund deficit for 2009 after the contract goes into effect.

The agreement will go before City Council for a vote Tuesday.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner praised the firefighters' union.

"I appreciate the support of Toledo Firefighters Local 92 in approving a labor contract. We are now one step closer to resolving our budget deficit," the mayor said in a statement.

Council President Joe McNamara said he was pleased with the outcome and intends to vote to approve the contract. The firefighters' contract expired Dec. 31, and the city struck a tentative agreement with the union on a new contract last week.

"The fact of the matter is, the city of Toledo is at 15 percent unemployment, tax returns are down, and we need contracts that reflect the state of the economy," Mr. McNamara said.

The contract requires firefighters to pay 7 percent toward their pension programs for six months. Afterward, the city will resume making the entire 10 percent employee share of the payment, which is on top of the city's contribution of 19.5 percent.

New firefighters will pay the full 10 percent of the employees' pension share.

The Toledo Police Patrolman's Association made similar concessions in its three-year contract, in addition to a two-year wage freeze followed by a 3.5 percent raise the third year.



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