Arrow-right Camera

Job-saving concessions OK’d by city leaders

A deal to prevent the loss of firefighter jobs was finalized Monday by the Spokane City Council in a unanimous vote.

Local 29 of the International Association of Fire Fighters voted late last month to accept the agreement, which eliminates the cost-of-living raises the union was scheduled to receive next year. Those increases would have been around 3 percent. Firefighters still will be eligible for pay raises based on seniority.

The union also agreed to pick up the increased cost of employee medical benefits above 4 percent.

The Spokane firefighters were the first group of city employees to meet Mayor Mary Verner’s terms for preventing layoffs. Last week, she reached a deal with the Spokane Police Guild, which still needs approval of its membership and the City Council.

If police agreement is ratified, about 20 employees in other unions that didn’t come to an agreement with city administrators still will lose their jobs. Their last day of city employment is Dec. 25.

“More than anything, we’re just glad we will get through (next) year with the same staffing levels we have in 2010,” said Local 29 President Mark Vietzke, a fire lieutenant.

Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said she was “really pleased” with the outcome and praised firefighters for agreeing to the deal.