Warwick City Council approves new contract for firefighters

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — After working for more than a year and a half without a new contract, firefighters in Warwick will finally have one the mayor said he considers “a win for the taxpayer.”

Following hours of debate, Warwick City Council voted 5-4 Monday to approve the three-year contract, which includes a reduction of two personal days, one holiday and four sick days. It also has the city’s first Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Trust Fund to pay for post-employment benefits.

Mayor Joseph Solomon called the contract “cost-neutral” — adding that it would save the city more than $600,000 in the first year alone.

“The mayor believes that the proposed contract that is in front of you is a win for the taxpayer,” Acting Chief of Staff William DePasquale said at Monday night’s meeting. “It is also fair and equitable to our firefighters.”

The approval did not come without concern, however. At the start of Monday’s meeting, Warwick City Council President Steven Merolla cited five errors in the collective bargaining agreement.

Despite the errors, counsel for the city said the contract could still be voted on at Monday night’s meeting — adding that the errors could be corrected before the agreement is executed.

The new contract is backed by the Warwick Firefighters Union. Union President Michael Carreiro tells Eyewitness News he is thrilled the city’s firefighters will have a new contract.

The new contract is backdated to July 1, 2019 and runs through June 30, 2022. The contract does not include a raise for the current fiscal year but will boost pay by 2% in the following two years of the deal.

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