The Numbers Behind the Tallahassee/Firefighters Contract Negotiations

The Numbers Behind the Tallahassee/Firefighters Contract Negotiations

There has been a lot of media coverage related to the negotiations between the City of Tallahassee and the Tallahassee Professional Firefighter Union (the Firefighter Union). The coverage has mostly focused on firefighters and their families speaking at city commission meetings and various politicians defending negotiation positions.

For the city, Mayor Dailey and city administration has argued that the current offer is worthy of consideration by the rank and file firefighters.

However, others have argued the current proposal does not do enough.

The Numbers

What is the city offering and what is the Firefighter Union asking for?

The first thing to understand is the current negotiations is related to one-year agreement that applies to FY 2024. The two parties will have to negotiate a 3-year contract that will take effect in FY 2025 which begin October 1, 2024.

The City of Tallahassee recently provided the parameters of a proposal. The proposal details specific issues related to four different employment classifications. These classifications include Firefighters, Engineers, Lieutenants, and Captain & Battalion Chiefs.

For each classification, the proposal provides the offer related to raises, bonuses and reductions in pension contributions.

For example, for the Firefighter classification the city shows a 4% raise, 2.5% pension reduction and a $1,000 bonus.

What does this mean in dollars?

The current starting salary for a Firefighter is $44,279. The 4% raise would move the salary to $46,519. The reduction in the contribution of the employee to a their pension ($1,162) and the bonus ($1,000) brings the equivalent annualized salary to $48,682.

You can review these numbers for the other classifications in the table below.

The Firefight Union counters the COT proposal with a request for a 6 percent raise and 4.25% pension contribution decrease. In equivalent annual salary this comes to $49,387.

Based on these estimates, the difference between the current COT offer and what the Firefighter Union is asking for the Firefighter classification is approximately $700 ($49,387 vs. $48,682) or $15 a week.

A similar analysis for the Engineer classification shows the difference between the COT proposal and the Firefighter Union is approximately $2,500 ($60, 271 vs. $57,843) or $170 per week.

Salary Comparison

How does this compare to what other government entities are paying firefighters?

Comparisons can be tricky due to benefits that are difficult to quantify, however the Firefighter Union reports the following compensation for the Firefighter classification in other jurisdictions:

Wakulla $46,155
Gadsden $52,000
Gainesville $49,291
Jefferson $47,250
Orlando $ 57,175

Next Steps

The current proposals show the Firefighter Union desires to have an across the board raise for all members of the union. In contrast, COT has crafted a proposal that focuses on the lower end of the pay scale.

There have been some reports that the total difference between the parties is approximately $350,000. The annual budget to provide fire services is approximately $55 million.

If a settlement is not reached by Wednesday, an independent arbitrator will review the proposals and make a recommendation.

7 Responses to "The Numbers Behind the Tallahassee/Firefighters Contract Negotiations"

  1. If the Shoe Fits – Who says they retire at 55? They still have to put in their years of service(at least 25 yrs) to receive full retirement benefits. They also pay much more into their pensions for this benefit. It’s not given to them by anyone. Maybe I’m misunderstanding your comment “work 7 more years like everyone else like police”, but the police also retire after 25 years of service or 55 with 5 years of service. All other city employees can retire the before the age of 55 with 30 years of service.
    Inyra – Most don’t work 2nd jobs by choice. Their take home pay is so low they need to work. I know many that would rather spend time with family or outside hobbies than having to work a second job. Because a couple of stations are slower then the whole company of personnel don’t get compensated?

  2. Firefighters make decent money for entry level, they only have to pass a Fire Fighter I/II career certificate program, about 7 months long, and pass the state written and practical examinations. If they get assigned to a slow station they have a lot of down time. Many pursue degrees and have time to study at work.
    Many work 2nd jobs by their own choice.
    One reason it’s so dangerous is there is still a culture of hero behavior, they deny it but it’s there, and they do things without all the appropriate protective gear on, or without proper backup. Or they get tunnel vision from adrenaline and rush into situations where only property is at stake, not the lives of citizens or animals. The next time a derelict bldg catches fir, please let it burn to the ground.
    And many in the fire dept use tobacco products, though they must sign a sworn statement saying they don’t. That increases their risk of heart disease and cancer by their own deceit. The random drug testing ought to be done 5 times more frequently, and does the city’s drug test include testing for nicotine and vaping products?
    With all.that said, I’d still spport a raise, but forget the bonuses snd decreased contributions to pension.
    On a side note, just look at the high amount the city manager makes, and his feet aren’t even close to being properly held to the fire!

  3. As much as everyone *says* they support the firefighters, who wants to pay higher service fees for this?

    Firefighters retire at 55. If they work 7 more years like everyone else like police it would cost us and them a lot less.

  4. Please correct me if my thinking is wrong on what I’m reading here.

    1) A salary increase raises your income permanently to a higher ongoing level.
    2) A bonus is a one-time payment that you may or may not receive in subsequent years. Once it’s spent, that money is gone forever.
    3) How can a reduction in a pension contribution be considered part of giving a person a salary increase? True, it will increase the person’s NET income and will give you more spending money. However, less money is now being contributed to your pension fund. That’s actually a reduction in your GROSS overall life-time earnings. This lower pension contribution offer reduces the amount of money accumulating in your pension fund. That’s not a good thing to do considering the day will come when that pension money will be needed when you’re no longer working.

    Suggestion: Forget the bonus and pension contribution reduction. Go for a bigger permanent salary increase. It’s the “gift” that keeps on giving, year after year.

  5. How about this, 8% Raise, keep the Pension Contribution Decrease at 2.5% and forget the Bonus. Tax on Bonuses are HIGHER than Tax on Salary, they would only get about $600.

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