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Posted on Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 4:24 p.m.

Ann Arbor City Council to vote on firefighter contract on Tuesday

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a resolution to accept the terms of a new contract with the firefighters union.

After months of labor negotiations between the city and IAFF Local 693, a new labor contract for fire employees was successfully negotiated and ratified by the union membership on Wednesday

The one-year contract - retroactive to July 1, 2009 - runs through June 30 and reduces fire labor costs and protects public safety priorities, city officials said in a press release today.

The city's bargaining committee is expected to continue to negotiate mutually acceptable terms for a new contract, which would start July 1.


Mayor John Hieftje

“It is with pleasure, and a great sense of relief, that I announce the successful conclusion of contract negotiations between the city of Ann Arbor and firefighters Local 693,” Mayor John Hieftje said in a written statement today. “The financial terms of the contract streamlines labor costs and suspends the layoff of 13 firefighters on Jan. 1, 2010.”

“I commend the bargaining committee for negotiating a fair contract that recognizes the contribution fire employees make in protecting our residents but also acknowledges the revenue constraints facing the city of Ann Arbor," City Administrator Roger Fraser added in the same press release.

The new contract includes a no-layoff guarantee through June 30, a 3-percent wage reduction and a 1-percent increase in employee pension contributions, which the union points out technically amounts to a 4 percent reduction in pay. It also includes a 50 percent reduction in the city’s contribution to employee healthcare reimbursement accounts for firefighters, which cost the city $45,500 last year.

According to a compensation report for last fiscal year, firefighter wages totaled $6.2 million. Another $509,687 was paid out in overtime and banked comp time.

Firefighter pensions cost the city $1.1 million last year, while health, dental and vision coverage was another $914,276.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Sun, Jan 17, 2010 : 11:13 a.m.

Unions eventually settled contracts amending retiree age restrictions and providing a pay raise - this enhanced retirement package was based on the million dollars that the City took. This contact settlement occurred under the Neil Berlin City Admin. era and HE benefitted. It had nothing to do with doing the "right thing" and putting that money back into the employee pension system. The Mayor and Mr. Frasier are well aware of the City's past involvement - but now want to blame retirees and current employees for being overpaid. (One must think like a politician to understand this...the Mayor looks like the "guy who did the right thing" by cutting the payroll - keeping his constituents happy with the parks and Greenbelt...and Mr. Frasier's bonuses are based on what he can cut) I have to wonder if the "newer" council members know of these shenanigans? Perhaps if they and the public were educated on the City's past behavior - they would not be so apt to vote on cuts that are going to risk public safety and the safety of workers. Bottom line, Ann Arbor is a wealthy town. If the general fund had been managed correctly - A2 would be able to ride out this economic storm. But's easier for the Mayor to blame the lowly city worker. Ann Arbor dot com, please investigate so the public has the real story!


Sun, Jan 17, 2010 : 9:34 a.m.

If the City had matched the Employees all through the 'fat' years instead of blowing that money on pet projects they wouldn't have to start paying now that times are bad. They could cut back to help maintain services. Wake up. Vote them out.


Sun, Jan 17, 2010 : 12:09 a.m.

"Firefighter pensions cost the city $1.1 million last year, while health, dental and vision coverage was another $914,276." Ann Arbor dot com - the City even has you believing their propaganda! The City does NOT pay for retiree pensions. The pension system was set in place many decades ago - with an initial outlay from the City - but the rest of the pension income has come from employee contributions and investment in the stock market by the pension board and investors. Perhaps you should dig into this a bit more. The City has " borrowed" from the Pension system and did not return it. In the mid 80's they "borrowed" over 1 million dollars. Unions fought to get it back but evenually had to quit fighting for it because of the legal costs. The City had deep enough pockets (with public money) to shut the unions down. The City doesn't want people to know that they've effectively stolen from the pension system and then cried foul when they finally- after MANY years- had to put some money into it last year after the stock market decline. The public is bamboozled into thinking that City employees do nothing but take...perhaps they need to look at the Mayor and previous / current City Administrator/s. City workers spend many years of their lives working FOR the public...unlike the current Dept heads and managers that are transplants from elsewhere. They use Ann Arbor to build their resumes and move on with a pocket full of money and lifetime health care. ***Ann Arbor Citizens - you need to become involved-demand transparency and wipe the slate clean of the political waste at the top!!!


Sat, Jan 16, 2010 : 9:59 p.m.

That looks like about $8.5 million in perosnnel costs. So if they lay off roughly 15% of the workforce they will save $1 million or so with the layoff. Even if overtime increases by 50% they are $3/4 million ahead. Unless you have a fire because they won't try to save it. They will be defensive only. Which means if you live in an apartment and another unit in your building catches you are toast too. But Fraser lives in Scio so he'll be okay. Shrugged at the 3% cut. I bet that if council seem serious about cutting his pay he is out of here. But the 'commission' will recommend they don't take cuts and they won't feel right making Roger take one...etc. Hey that $1 million reduction in cost will pay for the fountain!

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Sat, Jan 16, 2010 : 8:23 a.m.

Ann Arbor needs more green space! - the Green Belt should be bigger - we should pay millions of dollars to buy up farm land (that is not in the city limits) so that we can see farm land on our drive to work. Firefighters just are not a priority. Or are they!

Workin for A2

Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 7:15 p.m.

One down...Police Union, AFSCME, Teamsters go. And all the while, Mr. Fraser and the other bubble heads have had more than a month to reduce thier own compensation by 3%, but that has not happened yet...hmmm...When asked if the Mayor and City Council would take a 3% pay cut...Mr. Fraser vague response at Tuesday's meeting was met with a shrug of this shoulders...all the while...I was always taught true leadership is set by example...not do as I say...that would be a parent. Funny thing though, we are all adults, we do not need a parent we need definitive leaders setting the example.

The Watchman

Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 5:57 p.m.

Let me get this right, the mayor asks for a 3 percent reduction from the unions. Fire, fearing threats of a layoff, ponies up 4 percent. Bloggers still jump on them for their overtime. They do not create their own overtime. Fire administration budgets for overtime. Meanwhile, the Mayor is waiting till next year before the commission meets to reduce his pay and Mr Fraser still get paid to drive his cars to work (car allowance).

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 5:43 p.m.

I'm glad layoffs were avoided and sorry that the firefighters had to take any pay cut. I wish the useless public art money had gone to pay police and firefighters, leaving public art to be funded by local non-profit civic art groups.


Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 5:12 p.m.

"Another $509,687 was paid out in overtime and banked comp time." Wow. Hang in the can make it through without any lay-offs. Gunna take some sacrifrice but all jobs are these days.