One of Baltimore's two firefighters unions voted overwhelmingly last night in favor of a two-year contract with the city that gives pay parity with police officers in the contract's first year, with smaller raises in the second year.
Baltimore Fire Officers Union Local 964 voted 331-21 in favor of the contract, which it reached with the city five days ago.
Baltimore Firefighters Local 734 also reached an agreement then and will vote on it today, said President Rick Schulderberg.
"It was a good deal economically for our members," Stephan G. Fugate, president of Local 964, said after last night's vote in Canton. "It's not what some members had hoped for, but obviously most members thought it was fair."
The agreement gives firefighters and fire officers a 4 percent raise - a cost to the city of $3.2 million - on top of a 3 percent raise received in July. The additional raise would be retroactive to July.
The Baltimore Firefighters Web site said the back pay would not be dispensed until September.
Firefighters and officers would get raises ranging from 3.5 percent to 6 percent in the contract's second year, depending on seniority. Police are receiving 7 percent this year, 8 percent next year and 9 percent in the third year of their contract. Police officers with more than six years' service will receive an extra 1 percent raise each year.
"It was not an easy sale," Fugate said. "We're making a major concession here in terms of what we could have pursued by virtue of the equity clause. Hopefully, this will put the acrimony [between the union and the city] behind us."
The parity issue was the centerpiece of negotiations after the state Court of Special Appeals ruled last month that firefighters should receive the 7 percent raise police officers received this year.
The city must find ways to fund the $3.2 million in retroactive raises in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.