Pensacola firefighters will soon see their pay increase if city council members sign off on a tentative deal inked by Mayor Ashton Hayward and the firefighters’ union.
The proposed three-year collective bargaining agreement would raise the starting salary for newly-hired firefighters from $30,000 a year to $32,500 a year. Existing firefighters would each receive a 3% pay increase per year for each of the next three years.
The Pensacola Professional Fire Fighters Local 707, a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters, represents city firefighters, fire lieutenants and fire captains. The department’s chief, assistant chief, battalion chiefs, and support staff aren’t included in the agreement.
“Our public safety employees are one of our City’s strongest assets,” said Hayward. “These men and women put their lives on the line every day to protect our citizens. We owe it to them to ensure that they are paid fairly for the great work they do each and every day.”
The new contract will supplant a two-year agreement, inked in 2015, which enacted a number of reforms — or cuts, depending on who you ask — to the firefighters’ pension plan.
“We gave up significant stuff last time,” said Capt. Nathan Edler, the union’s president. “This time we went straight after wages, we didn’t have to touch anything with the pension, and everything just worked out.”
Edler said that while some past negotiations have been tense, the union and city officials are on good terms.
“We were both able to work together on things,” Edler said. “The biggest thing was that we were able to take care of some wage gaps and help show people that want to keep a career here at the fire department that the city is willing to work with us, and there are benefits that will help keep them here.”
The union’s members recently voted to ratify the new contract, and city council members are expected to vote on the deal at their August meeting.