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Fire Fighters Agree to Wage Freeze

In collective bargaining agreement, the FMBA makes wage and other concessions.

On Tuesday, Sept. 28, Springfield's fire fighter's union and the Township Committee agreed to terms for the first contract fire fighters have had since 2007.

Chief among the concessions made in the agreement is a wage freeze for 2011.  The agreement also set salary increases for 2007, 2008, 2009, as well as 2012, 2013 and 2014. The past salary increases are consistent with the collective bargaining agreements with police in those years, alternating between 3.75 and 4 percent. The future raises are under the 2 percent cap mandated this spring by Governor Christie.

In addition, the F.M.B.A. agreed to the government's plan to have public employee's health care coverage be provided by the state's health care system.

""This agreement is long overdue—for four years, our firefighters have been working without a contract leaving the Township and F.M.B.A. in a cloud of uncertainty," Springfield Mayor Ziad Shehady said in a statement.

Committeeman Jerry Fernandez, who negotiated the deal on behalf of the government with Shehady noted that the agreement was struck without binding arbitration.

FMBA President Joseph Popolo expressed satisfaction that the parties could come to terms that were both stable for the fire fighters and beneficial for township taxpayers.

"After four years, I am pleased that the F.M.B.A. and the Township were able to agree to terms that are both fair and equitable for everyone involved, especially the residents," Popolo said in a statement. "This agreement provides significant savings and help to the Township as they prepare budgets for coming years with minimal impact to the taxpayers, which has always been one of our main priorities.  Most of our members are residents and taxpayers in Springfield as well as firefighters."

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