CHICAGO — Chicago firefighters will get a wage hike and back pay but will contribute more toward health care under their newly signed union contract with the city.
Union leaders signed a one year contact Friday afternoon alongside Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Chicago firefighters and paramedics got $95 million in back pay but had to concede on healthcare contributions and other areas. However, union negotiators say under the circumstances, it’s a fair deal.
Firefighters will get a pay increase of 2% this year, a 2.25% increase for 2018 and a 2.25% increase for 2019.
The mayor said she’s grateful for the Chicago Fire Department, especially during the pandemic.
“Even in the darkest days of the pandemic and social unrest this summer, we always knew in every neighborhood that we could count on the men and woman of the Chicago Fire Department,” the mayor said.
The city now faces a $700 million budget deficit due to loss revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not clear how the city will be able to foot the bill on the firefighters’ raises. City Council will have to approve the contract.
The only city department still working without a contract is the Chicago Police Department.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara made an unscheduled visit to signing ceremony Friday.
“It doesn’t make any damn sense. You have learning at home for all CPS students. Obviously class crowding is not an issue anymore,” Catanzara said. “If everybody is being taught remotely, lay off some teachers. They got a big raise. They’re laughing all the way to the bank. We’re looking like fools right now.”
The police union president was not happy with the state of negotiations and wanted to meet with the mayor. It’s not clear if the mayor knew Catanzara arrived to discuss the issue with her on Friday.