WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The Warwick City Council Finance Committee voted Monday in favor of a new contract for the city’s firefighters – who have gone without one for more than a year.
The committee voted 2-1 to recommend approval of a new contract, which was recently approved by the firefighters’ union and Mayor Joseph Solomon.
“We’re looking forward to getting this ratified and moving forward,” President of the Warwick Firefighters Union Michael Carreiro said.
Carreiro said after months of negotiations, his members are satisfied with the proposed contract.
“It overwhelmingly passed the membership,” he said. “It is a fair and equitable deal for my membership and for the taxpayers.”
The three-year contract has 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.
City Council President Steve Merolla said that OPEB needs to be restructured in the contract.
“OPEB, or unfunded liability, is over $400 million and our pension liability is over $450 million,” Merolla said.
Merolla said he has concerns over the pension benefits in the new contract. He said it does more for new firefighters than it does for current ones.
“There are firefighters making $7,000, $8,000, $9,000 a month that are retired, but they are not paying co-pays for their health insurance,” Merolla said.
During contract negotiations, Carreiro said firefighters continued to work and the city’s safety was never compromised.
The Warwick City Council now has to meet to discuss the new contract and allow for public comment before voting on whether or not to approve it.