North Adams OKs 3-year contracts with police, fire unions

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NORTH ADAMS — The City Council has approved three-year contracts with its police and fire unions.

The contracts, negotiated and brought forward by Mayor Richard Alcombright, will provide members of the Fire Department's union with a 1 percent annual cost of living adjustment dating to July 1, then 1 percent on each Jan. 1 during the contract.

The deals, approved Tuesday, cover the city's 21 union police officers and 20 union firefighters.

The police union negotiated a 2 percent cost of living adjustment on July 1 of each contracted year.

Both proposed contracts would be retroactive to July 1, 2017, which Alcombright told the council Tuesday is a typical procedure.

Nonunion employees of both departments will also receive a 1 percent annual cost of living adjustment, one retroactive to July 17, 2017, and the second Jan. 1, 2018, according to Alcombright.

The new fire contract would also provide funding for the purchase of "class A" dress uniforms, a "modest" annual stipend for various levels of training and an adjustment to the way sick time is bought back.

For police, the new contract includes a stipend for EMT certifications and reimbursement for the cost of promotional exams, according to Alcombright.

The council unanimously approved the new contracts.

Councilor Eric Buddington apologetically noted that the increase in pay is below the rate of inflation.

Alcombright estimated that during his eight years as mayor, the average annual increase accepted by the city's unions through collective bargaining is less than 1 percent.

"The folks that work here have, in a sense, taken it on the chin, because they understand some of the financial issues," Alcombright said.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-496-6376.


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