Mississauga Firefighters Set to Receive Substantial Pay Raises

Mississauga’s firefighters are about to receive a raise.

The City of Mississauga and the firefighters union have come to an agreement of a salary increase of 7.3 per cent over a three year period from 2015 to 2017.

The salary increase will be a retroactive payment that will occur in March of 2018 and will cost the city $11.7 million. The salary for a first-class firefighter is now $97,334, which is in line with surrounding municipalities, such as Brampton, Toronto and Oakville.

This decision was approved at council on February 7 after the board of arbitration approved the settlement terms for salary and benefits.

"We feel (the consent award) is fair and reasonably reflects other agreements that have been in place across the province for some time," said union president Chris Varcoe. "All we have ever wanted during this process was for our members to be treated like our colleagues in other jurisdictions and we think this agreement accomplishes that."

For those who are not familiar with the issue, the Mississauga 701 unionized firefighters went without a contract or pay increase for three years when the contract ended in December 2014.

Since then the City of Mississauga and the Mississauga Firefighters Association (MFFA) have been in interest arbitration on salary for firefighters.

Since that might sound a little “inside baseball,” interest arbitration means that both parties are unable to agree to a settlement and cannot go into strike.

This means that an arbitrator works to mediate the situation between both parties and come to a collective agreement. In some cases, this can mean higher pay increases for unionized employees and a higher budget for the City of Mississauga.

"The cumulative effect of these increasing costs of the emergency services puts significant financial pressures on the municipal budget," said Louise Ann Riddell, human resources manager for the city.

Some of the strains on the municipal budget could lead to the city trying to achieve higher revenues through an increase in taxes or a drop in services.

Back in 2011, the Mississauga firefighters did receive a 11.03 per cent salary increase in addition to retroactive pay for the three year period of 2011 to 2014. At the same time that the firefighters negotiated the 11.03 per cent salary increase, the Peel Region Police negotiated a 9.65 per cent increase.

"Our front-line emergency professionals are some of the best and the bravest and we must ensure they are well-paid," said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie. "At the same time, a municipality's ability to budget is limited by the fact that property taxes are our only major source of revenue."

Although the arbitration process took almost a year, the two parties have been able to reach a collective agreement for the period ending 2017.The firefighters union and the City of Mississauga will definitely be back at the table negotiating in the near future for the upcoming agreement term.

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