August 7, 2015 | 5:33am  

 

City inks benefits deal with firefighters union

By Yoav Gonen

After months of public battles, the city reached a deal with the firefighters union Thursday on the partial restoration of disability benefits — while also agreeing on a tentative seven-year employment contract.

The pension deal would restore firefighters hired after 2009 to a 75 percent retirement benefit if injured — up from 50 percent of final salary — but would require they contribute an additional 3 percent of their pay to help fund it.

If the same deal is reached with members of the police, sanitation and correction unions, it would add $250 million in costs through fiscal 2019 — but the offsets would cut the city’s tab to $125 million, officials said.

Albany lawmakers would have to pass a law approving the pension reforms, which include a number of smaller changes.

“We thought this was a deal we could not walk away from,” said Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy.

He joined with the police union earlier this year to seek a full restoration of disability benefits cut by the state in 2009.

But the de Blasio administration opposed the measure, saying its $400 million cost through fiscal 2019 was too high. Hizzoner and the City Council offered a more limited restoration that would have cost $105 million, but that proposal didn’t garner enough state support. If the other unions reject the pension deal, city officials said they’d move ahead with just the firefighters union.

The contract mirrors prior deals with uniformed workers by raising salaries 11 percent over 7 years, retroactive to August 2010 or 2011, depending on employee titles. If approved by the union, it would raise average firefighter salaries from $68,757 to $76,670 by July 2017.