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Boston firefighters ratify contract that includes pay, detail increases

The Boston firefighters union ratified a three-year contract that results in a pay hike of about 10.6 percent and ends lengthy and contentious negotiations with the mayor’s office, authorities said Monday.

The contract, which the union voted to ratify Friday, will be submitted to the City Council for approval and requires a $27.4 million appropriation to cover the pay increases, according to Mayor Michelle Wu’s office.

In a joint statement Monday, Wu and International Association of Fire Fighters Local 718 president Sam Dillon praised the collective bargaining agreement, saying it “focused on the needs of Boston’s communities and the dedicated firefighters who are always on call to keep our city safe.


“This agreement reflects our shared commitment to delivering the exceptional City services that make Boston the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

The contract, which runs from to July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2024, includes retroactive annual pay raises of 3 percent for each of the first two years, and 2.5 percent for the third year, according to the agreement.

It also increases hazardous-duty pay — which all active firefighters qualify for — by 1.5 percent retroactive to July 1 of this year, and it includes an $8 an hour increase in detail pay once the contract is funded. The contract also includes adjustments related to vacation time and sick leave.

The contract does not include reforms Wu had been pressing for, including protocols related to on-duty injuries and changes to discipline for drug use.

Lou Mandarini, Wu’s senior adviser on labor issues, said during a telephone interview Monday that Wu will continue pushing reforms during future negotiations, but the administration was currently focused on reaching an agreement with the 1600-member union that has been working without a contract for more than two years.

“What we’re doing here is getting people caught up, getting our employees paid,” said Mandarini, adding that “we can pursue the reform issues and the things we care about with great fervor” when negotiating the next contract.


The agreement with the firefighters avoided arbitration and followed a clash between Wu and the union over her COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

Union members picketed outside of mayoral events early last year, holding signs that read “Mayor Wu Burns Firefighters,” as firefighters pushed back on Wu’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates, eventually suing. Ultimately, the two sides came to an agreement early this year to drop the mandates, which were never enforced even though the city ultimately prevailed in the suit.

In April, the union filed paperwork to initiate the first step of what could lead to state arbitration and said the city hadn’t been bargaining in “good faith.” Union representatives at the time claimed there was a “communication breakdown,” and they were seeking state help in resolving it, while the Wu administration accused the firefighters of a “unilateral rush” to the state.

The ratification of the firefighters contract means Wu has reached an agreement with all of the unions that were working without a contract when she took office, except for several police unions.

Negotiations with the largest police union, the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, continue to move toward arbitration being handled by the state, with mediation scheduled to begin this month. The Boston Police Superior Officers Federation and the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society both have filed with the state to move toward arbitration, but are earlier in the process, according to the city.


Sean Cotter can be reached at him @cotterreporter.