NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The City Council is expected to approve an ordinance for a new collective bargaining agreement with the Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA) #17 union, which represents the city's firefighters.

The contract calls for two retroactive raises, a 1.5% raise that goes back to July 2015, and 2% raise going back to January 1 of this year.

It mirrors a deal recently approved for the FMBA local that represents firefighters that have been promoted to leadership positions in the department. 

The City Council already approved a resolution in support of the new agreement at their March 2 meeting, and will vote on a full-fledged city ordinance at their 6:30pm meeting on March 16.

When the most recent FMBA #17 contract expired on December 31, 2014, firefighters made annual salaries ranging from $37,389 to $92,735.

Under the new agreement, that salary range will immediately rise, with rookie firefighters earning $38,709 per year and the highest-paid firefighters pulling down $96,009 salaries.

By 2021, rank-and-file members of the department in the highest pay grade, known as "step 7," will earn $104,965 salaries, according to the ordinance.

Officials said that the union gave up certain concessions, similar to what the city's other unions have agreed to in the most recent round of bargaining, in exchange for seven years of annual raises, including the two retroactive ones.

"I know that they gave back the same things… that the [police unions] did, which is what the City asked them to do," said City Council President Kevin Egan, a union official.

Among the givebacks were changes the administration requested to the prescription plan for city workers.

As we reported, the FMBA #17 was the only union left in the city that was working without a contract after the Council approved deals with the Municipal Employees Association (MEA) and the FMBA #217, which represents the fire department's superior officers in February.

Below is a table showing the raises included in the various agreements with city unions, assuming the final agreement is approved by City Council and Mayor James Cahill:

Year MEA
2015 1.5%* 1.5%* 1.5%
2016 2% 2%** 1.5%
2017 2% 1.5% 2%
2018 1.5% 2% 1.5%
2019 2% 2%
2020 1.5% 1.5%
2021 2% 2%

*retroactive to July 1, 2015
**retroactive to January 1, 2016

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Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.