Scio Township reaches an agreement with the professional firefighters union

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Scio Township has a new contract with the firefighters union that will include increases in wages.

At its June 14 meeting, the Scio Township Board by a 6-0 vote, with trustee Jacqueline Courteau absent, approved ratifying the contract between Scio Township and International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 4891.

In follow up to the meeting, Scio Township Supervisor Will Hathaway told The Sun Times News (STN) the agreement is a three-year contract and includes wage increases for all firefighters.

“The compensation adjustment is important because we're in a very competitive job market,” said Hathaway. “Scio Township must be mindful of what other area fire departments are paying their firefighters or we'll risk losing our skilled employees.”

Also in follow up with STN, Scio Township Fire Chief Andrew Houde detailed some of the contract’s highlights.

“There are quite a few highlights in the agreement,” Fire Chief Houde said.

Wage increases were higher than normal, according to Houde, who said this was in part due to the high inflationary environment and the difficulty many places are having attracting employees.

Increases for the three years are 5.5 percent, 5 percent and 5 percent.

Houde said several changes were made to the promotional system to make the system “more fair to the full-time staff and increased training requirement to be able to be promoted.”

“We were able to clarify a lot of areas that were ambiguous, which should smooth several administrative operations,” Chief Houde said.

He said the firefighters have long been looking for a retiree health plan that meets the needs of firefighters, who typically retire younger than other workers.

“We have transitioned them from the Township plan that provides for a Medicare supplemental plan to a plan that both the employer and employee contribute to a retiree health care savings account,” Chief Houde said by email. “Also, we evaluated the cost of the current benefit owed to the Firefighters and will make a contribution to each Firefighters account in the same amount. This gets our more senior firefighters in a better position to be able to retire and addresses the unfunded liability that the Township owed and is being scrutinized by the State. This change is a win for both the Firefighters and the Township.”

Houde summed it up this way.

“Like many employers, fire departments are having difficulty attracting and retaining employees,” he said. “This package will hopefully position Scio Township competitively and allow us to fill positions as they become available.”

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