EVERETT — Labor unions representing Everett police and firefighters have struck agreements with the city on new contracts providing wage increases to members for the next three years.
Members of the Everett Police Officers Association, Everett Police Management Association and Everett Firefighters Local No. 46 will receive a 10.1% wage increase in 2023 to cover increased cost-of-living expenses, among other benefits, according to a document provided to City Council members.
The Everett City Council unanimously authorized Mayor Cassie Franklin to sign all three contracts at their Dec. 14 meeting. The current collective bargaining agreements will expire on Dec. 31, at which point the new agreements will take effect through 2025.
City spokesperson Simone Tarver said in a statement that city staff prioritized keeping pay for first responders competitive while maintaining good stewardship of public funds.
Tarver said city police and fire departments have seen employee departures increase while the number of new applicants decreased in recent years, making retention incentives a top priority during the bargaining process.
“The city needs to offer fair, competitive wages to ensure we have adequate public safety staff to come to our aid when needed and keep our community safe,” Tarver said. “The City of Everett is making this investment to keep our public safety divisions strong and keep our residents safe.”
Don Huffman, president of Everett Firefighters Local No. 46, said his union’s new contract was a “routine” one, focused primarily on clarifying language to reflect department changes over the course of the last contract. That includes an additional 12 hours of vacation time and a promise of raises matching the consumer price index in 2024 and 2025, among other minor tweaks, Huffman said.
The new contract also includes room to hire new employees, but Huffman said the fire department isn’t looking to add additional positions so much as replace those who are retiring.
The union has historically advocated for raises above the consumer price index, which calculates the change in prices of everyday goods and services for the average consumer, Huffman said. During this round of bargaining, however, the union elected to ask for raises equal to the index, no higher.
“Due to a number of factors, it was in the best interest of the members of the union and, we felt, in the best interest of the city and the citizens to remain consistent with CPI,” Huffman said. “But it’s in the union’s interest to ensure that the same number of hours that they work buys the same number of gallons of milk at the grocery store.”
Members of the police officers’ union will receive the same 10.1% raise in keeping with inflation, with 5% increases set for the second and third year of the contract. Other benefits include a $50 increase to uniform and equipment stipends, overtime pay on holidays and wage premiums for officers with certain qualifications or responsibilities. Police Management Association members will also get the cost-of-living raise.
Neither the Police Officers Association nor the Police Management Association responded to requests for comment.