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WARREN Firefighters to get raises in OK'd pact

By Denise Dick

Thursday, December 12, 2002

The union approved the report at an earlier meeting.
WARREN -- City firefighters will see a pay increase of 11.75 percent over three years under a fact finder's report approved by city council.
Council members unanimously approved the report, delivered to council members Monday, at a meeting Wednesday. It calls for 4.25 a percent increase in the contract's first year, followed by increases of 4 percent and 3.5 percent in the second and third years.
The 74-member Warren City Professional Firefighters Local 204 approved the report at a meeting Wednesday, said union president Jeff Younkins.
"We're very satisfied," he said. "It's a fair contract on both sides."
Councilman Robert A. Marchese, D-at large, finance committee chairman, agreed that it's a fair contract.
Contract details
Under the current pact, which expires Dec. 31, assistant chiefs earn $22.40 per hour; captains, $19.48; lieutenants, $16.94; firefighters with three or more years of experience, $14.73; firefighters with two to three years, $13.26; firefighters with one to two years, $11.78; and firefighters with less than a year, $10.31.
According to the report, in mediation and during a hearing before the fact finder, the city suggested proposals that would have the union paying a monthly contribution toward health care coverage, referring to rising health care costs.
But the union argued that no other city employee group contributes toward health care.
The fact finder followed the union's position, recommending that the new contract not require union contributions toward monthly health care premiums.
Not convincing
"The need for firefighters' contributions would be more convincing if the city's management team had set the pattern by going first," the report said.
The report also referred to the union's argument that while the city complained of a 25 percent increase in health care costs last year, it spent more than $2 million rebated from Blue Cross/Blue Shield on capital improvements such as paving and construction instead of using it to bolster reserves.
In other business, city officials bid farewell to Terry Nicopolis, city environmental service director, who is retiring at year's end after about 30 years with the city.
Nicopolis is credited with turning the department into an efficient operation, but he thanked his family and fellow employees for their support and work in accomplishing it.
Nicopolis referred to a yet-to-be-released state performance audit of his department. The department picks up an average of 438 accounts per day compared with an average of 263 accounts for the cities used for comparison.
The department also picks up about twice as much trash as the other cities, uses less than half as many collectors per day and charges more than $3 less per month, Nicopolis said, referring to the performance audit.
"I hope I left the city a little better off than when I found it," he said.
Mayor Hank Angelo, Fred Harris, safety-service director; and several council members and department heads thanked Nicopolis for his dedication.
"You are surely, truly going to be missed," Harris said.