City officials recently reached a contract agreement with the Salem Firefighters Union, Local 172. The three-year deal runs from fiscal 2012 through fiscal 2014 and calls for a 6 percent pay increase over the life of the contract. It also includes language modifying sick-leave buyback benefits. Firefighters who join the department starting in January will be ineligible for any sick-leave buyback at retirement. Instead, they will be permitted to buy back up to two days a year each January at a capped rate provided the employee has not used 50 percent of their available sick leave for that year. The contract also allows current firefighters to voluntarily buy back a portion of their sick days early, but at a lower rate than they would receive at retirement. Officials said the changes would significantly reduce the city’s sick-leave buyback costs, which this year exceed $700,000. “I thank the Salem Firefighters Union for their cooperative approach to these negotiations,” Mayor Kimberley L. Driscoll said. “This new contract provides fair and adequate wages, along with modifications to sick-leave buyback policies that will save money for the city and its taxpayers.”
By John Laidler| Globe Correspondent November 20, 2012
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