Mayor Kevin Faulconer with the city seal and flag in the background. Photo by Chris Jennewein
Mayor Kevin Faulconer with the city seal and flag in the background. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Updated at 12:45 p.m. May 31, 2016

The city of San Diego reached a multi-year tentative agreement with firefighters that upholds the pension reform approved by voters under Proposition B, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 145 announced Tuesday.

The latest agreement brings all the city’s recognized employee organizations under contracts that uphold Prop. B pension reform, according to the mayor’s office.

The agreement was ratified by a majority vote of firefighters and will go before the City Council next month for approval.

“We’re working hard to make sure San Diego remains one of the safest big cities in the country,” Faulconer said.

“As our economy grows, we need to continue investing in public safety, including the brave men and women serving us as firefighters,” he said. “We crafted fair employee agreements that adhere to pension reform as set by the voters in Proposition B and will position the city to continue to offer high- quality service to San Diegans.”

In addition to upholding pension reform, the new contract reforms overtime rules and vacation policies, provides increased health care funding and offers paid parental leave to firefighters for the first time.

Earlier this month, Faulconer announced new agreements with employee groups representing the city’s skilled trades workers, attorneys and lifeguards.

Previous agreements had already been reached with groups representing police officers and white-collar workers. All the contracts are in effect through 2020, except for the Deputy City Attorneys Association, which goes through 2019.

Among other things, Proposition B, passed in 2012, limited the type of pay increases that could go to city employees for a five-year period, allowing the city to get a handle on its debt-ridden pension system.

The latest deal provides firefighters with many of the same terms of other employee groups, including 3.3 percent pay raises in both the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years — which come after the freeze ends.

The agreement also includes parental leave of 160 hours paid time off for the birth, placement or adoption of a child; bereavement leave of 40 hours with the addition of step-parents, step-siblings and grandparents, grandchildren, mother-in-law and father-in-law to the list of covered deaths; an increase in the annual tuition reimbursement benefit from $1,000 to $2,000 in Fiscal Year 2017 for education and job-related training; and a hike in reimbursement for parking at city-run garages.

Specific to the firefighters contract are terms that reduce the city’s liability for accrued annual leave, which could save $8 million over the life of the deal; an increase in the annual uniform allowance; a requirement that employees who work 96 hours straight receive a mandatory 24 hours off; and a provision for employees to take four consecutive shifts of annual leave per year.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.