By David Wedge, Boston Herald-
Boston firefighters are offering to defer a 2.5 percent pay hike for one year to end a stalemate over contract talks, the union announced today.
The 11th-hour offer was met with applause from city councilors and others in attendance inside the council chamber at City Hall.
“Let’s work together. We’ll work with you,” Local 718 President Edward Kelly said today. “We’ve made a credible, real concession.”
Council President Mike Ross said, “I believe this is a significant concession on your part. I appreciate it.” He also asked if all firefighters will bless the deal.
Union officials said the “resolution” does not need to be ratified, but simply supported by the union. Kelly said this afternoon the pact is ready to be approved by the council and mayor with the “give back” included.
“All the mayor has to do is sign that document,” said Kelly. “We want to get this behind us. It’s time to heal.”
The mayor’s office must now rule on the deal before the council can take a vote. It is unclear when a vote will be called.
Councilor Steve Murphy called the concession “extraordinary,” adding he was “blown away by it, frankly.”
The wage deferral appears to have swayed the council, judging by the support for the union where councilors called the offer “an act of courage.”
The union started the day meeting behind closed doors with city officials this morning. The council and union then met in open session.
The council is meeting today to decide whether to approve or reject a four-year contract awarded by a state arbitrator that gives jakes 16.5 percent raises, including a 2.5 percent hike for drug testing. Menino claims the raises are boosted to 19 percent for most firefighters when longevity bonuses are added in.
The 2.5 percent hike for agreeing to drug testing is the raise the union is offering to bump back a year.