Town of Palm Beach News

Town of Palm Beach Firefighters May Have Finalized Agreement

The Town of Palm Beach and its firefighters may have a finalized agreement on compensation and benefits that has been six years in the making. The bargaining meetings began in 2011, when pensions and benefits were cut, sparking mass resignations and creating hiring issues due to lack of competitive pay rates and pay increases. In the passing years, the opposing sides have been deadlocked until this past week when they reached a tentative agreement on a contract.

President of the IAFF Local 2928, Jose Gonzalez stated both parties were able to come to a compromise on two terms, work week and pensions. Union Members are scheduled to vote on the contract on June 1st and 2nd  but in order for it to pass, half of the 39 voting members plus one, must be in agreement. If approved, the Town Council will likely cast their votes during their meeting on June 13th.

Gonzalez stated, “Both sides gave a little bit. Are we at the top as far as pay and benefits—no. But if the contract is ratified it allows us to move forward with making the Palm Beach Fire Department more competitive with surrounding departments. It doesn’t bring them in line with everyone in our area, but it gets us, the members, a little closer.”

A major focal point of the agreement is what are referred to as “Kelly Days,”which are unpaid relief work days. Palm Beach opposed having Kelly Days, but eventually agreed to schedule one after every tenth shift, under the tentative contract. According to Gonzalez, Kelly Days are typically every 21 days but with the current contact the day off would occur every 30 days, based on the current Palm Beach firefighters schedule; 24 hours on duty, 48 hours off.

Town of Palm Beach Firefighters May Have Finalized Agreement

Details of contract include how the process of promotions will now be based on the top three candidates on an eligibility list, and establishing salary minimums and maximums for each position; replacing the salary step plan. Current hourly salaries range from $19.77 as a Firefighter EMT to $36.04 as a Driver Engineer/Paramedic. Additionally, Firefighters would receive 3% to 7.5% raises based on their review scores.

>>>Related: town of palm beach firefighter benefits

The Town of Palm Beach proposed to set the retirement age at 56, with 10 or more years of service, as well as a 2.75% benefit multiplier, which Union Members agreed upon. They also agreed to the Town’s proposed method of determining employees’ contributions to their retirement fund; basing it on a sliding scale that ranges from 8% to 12% of compensation, and on the fund’s investment performance. Other retirement benefits, vacation time, overtime, and sick leave were also all agreed upon.

Negotiations will start up again after the contract expires, which will be on October 1st of this fiscal year.

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Jeanette has written for online magazines run by some of the biggest regional newspapers, college newspapers, and for various companies. She is most interested in local politics, music, and the 'foodie' scene of Palm Beach.

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