City of Everett and firefighters union sign new contract

The ability to negotiate a minimum staffing level remains under review by the state Court of Appeals.

EVERETT — The city of Everett and the firefighters union, Local 46, have signed a new contract that is retroactive to this past January.

The union represents about 170 firefighters and paramedics. The contract covers 2018 and 2019.

It awards a 3 percent cost-of-living increase in each of those years. The firefighters will pay 5 percent of their medical insurance costs in 2018, the result of earlier arbitration. That will go up to 10 percent in 2019, which is what most city employees pay.

The lack of a contract had played into past tensions between the union and City Hall. Mayor Cassie Franklin, who started the job in January, has said she is taking steps to repair that relationship.

“We are very happy with the collaborative effort,” union President Paul Gagnon said.

The new contract appears to resolve some of the issues being argued in a case pending before the state Court of Appeals.

The legal battle is focused on whether the city must negotiate minimum staffing levels with the union. Everett is appealing an October ruling by a state labor board. The board found that an increased workload for firefighters heightened the risk of occupational hazards, and therefore should be subject to bargaining.

The city has filings due to the court later this month. The case is drawing attention because of its potential to affect labor contracts across Washington.

Since the 1970s, the Everett firefighters’ contract has set minimum around-the-clock staffing at 25. Last year, the Local said it was seeking a permanent increase to 35.

The new contract sets that number at 32, with future changes requiring discussion between the city and firefighters. It provides avenues for resolving future disagreements if they arise.

Everett on Friday also announced the promotion of a new fire chief, Dave DeMarco. He has been with the department since 1994.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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