New York Daily News

November 2, 2005

Want to Move to FDNY?

Old Pay May Stay Behind

By LISA COLANGELO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Amid all the happy talk of 17% salary increases and five-man engine companies, there is a piece of the proposed contract between the Uniformed Firefighters Association and the city that will make some municipal workers not so happy.

Under the four-year agreement, any city worker who moves over to the Fire Department will now start at rookie pay.

In case you didn't hear, that's $25,100 for the first 13 weeks on the job. After graduation from the FDNY Academy, it jumps to $32,700.

That's still much less than the current starting salary of $36,000.

You have to wonder how this is resonating with all the cops, correction officers and other city workers on the FDNY list who expected to bring their salaries - or at least a good chunk of it - to the job.

Under this new agreement, which still has to be ratified, they will keep their pensions but not their pay.

Mayor Bloomberg said last week he doesn't expect the police or correction unions to lobby against this administrative code change, which needs to be approved by the City Council.

"We don't anticipate any problems," Bloomberg said. "This is something that was part of the agreement with the UFA, and if it were not changed, we would have to reopen the contract.

"But it was a way to save money so that we could pay the Bravest - who are out there in the field every day protecting us - more."

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch told the Daily News it was a "thinly veiled attempt to hold unhappy police officers hostage."

Many cops prefer a firefighter's schedule because it is easier to hold down a second job. Many of them also take other city jobs while they wait for their number to be called on the firefighter list.

Back in June, I reported that more than 360 city police officers have left the force to join the FDNY since January 2002.

Last week, my colleague Tony Sclafani reported that number is even higher - about 547 - over a span of four years.

The firefighters' proposed agreement mirrors other agreements reached in recent months including cops and correction officers. Starting pay is slashed during the first few weeks and months on the job.

Here are some of the highlights of the proposed contract between the city and the Uniformed Firefighters Association: . It covers a 50-month period from June 1, 2002, to July 31, 2006. It includes a total salary increase of more than 17% for four years.

  • The city promised to keep the 60 five-man engine companies that exist and add four more.
  • Firefighters will receive a retroactive lump sum of about $15,000, although it will be higher for some.
  • The maximum salary of firefighters increases to $63,309 from the current rate of $54,000.
  • The city will increase the uniform allowance by $100.
  • Effective Jan. 1, firefighters will lose one 15-hour tour of annual leave.