Haverhill, MA, Firefighters, City Reach Contract Agreement

Feb. 15, 2024
Haverhill firefighters, who have worked sans contract since 2021, said the pact is fair.

Feb. 15—HAVERHILL — Mayor Melinda Barrett announced the city and Haverhill Firefighters Local 1011 have come to a collective bargaining agreement that will cost the city about $1.2 million, increasing the firefighter budget by 15% over the past three years.

Local 1011 has worked without a contract since June 30, 2021. Both parties negotiated in good faith to achieve a fair contract and avoid costly mediation, Barrett said.

"One of my first goals upon assuming office was to resolve the long and at times contentious contract dispute between the Fire Union and the prior administration," Barrett said in a press release. "I am proud to say that we were able to reach this agreement within the first five weeks of my tenure."

Barrett noted the details of the contract will be included in the City Council agenda for Feb. 13 and that the council is expected to place it on file for 10 days and vote on the contract at its Feb. 27 meeting.

The contract, which is retroactive, provides firefighters with a 1.75% pay increase effective July 1, 2021; a 2% increase effective July 1, 2022, and a 2% increase effective July 1, 2023. Also effective July 1, 2023, the contract provides a one-time salary adjustment of 3.25% to base salary wages. The total cost for the three years of pay increases amounts to $581,000.

Shift differentials are boosted as well, from 11% to 12.25% and detail rates (paid by businesses) will increase to $68 per hour.

Additional contract costs include $185,000 for overtime; $110,000 in hazmat pay increases; $250,000 for EMT certification increases, $64,000 in shift differential increases and $50,000 for college credits, Mass Fire Academy and holiday pay.

Barrett also agreed to a request by the union to remove language in the contract that would have allowed civilians to replace firefighters at the public safety dispatch center.

Former Mayor James Fiorentini had been trying for some time to negotiate an agreement that would allow civilians to replace firefighters in dispatch to save money and put more firefighters in the stations.

The union's position has been that it is safer to have firefighters answer dispatch calls than civilians.

The contract also makes permanent an increase from 12 to 16 firefighters at the High Street station.

Christine Lindberg, Barrett's chief of staff, said the contract was anticipated in the city's current budget.

"These funds were already budgeted with anticipation of reaching an amicable agreement," she said, adding this contract expires on June 30 and that a new contract will have to be negotiated.

Local 1011 President Tim Carroll said, " The Haverhill Firefighters Local 1011 are grateful for a fair contract from the Barrett administration. Negotiating with Mayor Barrett was a breath of fresh air after being out of contract for over 900 days during the previous mayoral administration. We are sure that better days lie ahead working with Mayor Barrett and the current Haverhill City Council."

Barrett said the contract agreement is an important investment in public safety and a part of increased efforts by her administration to ensure that those who put their lives on the line for the residents of Haverhill receive competitive wages and benefits.

She said the city of Haverhill and Haverhill Firefighters Local 1011 share a commitment to delivering exceptional services that make Haverhill a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

Barrett has said finalizing a contract with the union was one of her priorities as is building a new fire station on Route 97.

Negotiations between the city and Local 1011 broke down during a negotiation session in May 2023 after Local 1011 declared an impasse and terminated the session.

The union subsequently filed a petition with the state's Joint Labor Management Committee, a division of the Department of Labor Relations, to help resolve the dispute.


(c)2024 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.)

Visit The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.) at www.eagletribune.com

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