Pittsburg, Pennsylvania Mayor, Firefighters' Union Approve Tentative Five-Year Contract

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Mayor Tom Murphy and the firefighters' union on Wednesday agreed on a five-year contract proposal, including pay freezes, fewer holidays and higher health care costs, that cuts spending even more than was sought by two state boards overseeing the city's finances.

A new, leaner contract for firefighters had been sought by the city and two state oversight boards because the Fire Bureau accounted for $51.7 million, or 12.2 percent, of the city's $417.5 million operating budget.

Murphy said the proposed pact would reduce the Fire Bureau's budget more than what was called for by the state-appointed Act 47 Recovery Team and a five-year spending plan approved by another oversight board, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, appointed by the Legislature.

The proposed pact, which needs to be approved by firefighters and city council, would save the city more than $20 million over the next five years, Murphy said.

The contract, which would be retroactive to January, would freeze firefighters' pay this year and next year and also cut firefighters' bimonthly paychecks by $45 this year. It would also cut four holidays, limit firefighters to a maximum of 20 days of vacation starting next year. New firefighters will have smaller pensions and not receive health care when they retire.

The city would also eliminate six fire companies, or about 110 firefighters, although no firefighters will be laid off because the city has 208 firefighter positions unfilled, said Jacqueline Morrow, the city's solicitor.

The contract also would allow the city to make further cuts suggested by the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority in 2007. A report by a consultant recommended that the city close a third of its 35 fire stations and cut 288 jobs.