Firefighters OK new Warren deal

WARREN — By a 75-percent margin, Warren’s firefighters union has ratified a contract covering the last six months of 2009 that reduces wages and benefits by about 10 percent and saves the cash-strapped city about $473,000.

The concessions included a 2.5 percent reduction in pay, elimination of the city paying the 6 percent “pickup” of the firefighters’ pension costs, $400 annual uniform allowance, $500 annual attendance bonus, longevity pay and changes in their health care coverage.

Marc Titus, president of Local 204 of the firefighters union, said the concessions result in the 58 firefighters giving the city 29 percent of the money needed to offset the city’s $1.6 million shortfall, even though the firefighters make just 23 percent of the wages in the city’s General Fund.

“We voted for our safety and citizen safety,” Titus said, adding that the vote was not a vote of confidence for Mayor Michael O’Brien.

“This is not saying we agreed to the way the mayor is running the city,” Titus said.

The city had threatened to lay off 18 more firefighters July 3 if the union did not accept the concessions.