Chicago firefighters will soon receive $95 million in back pay thanks to a four-year contract, approved by the City Council Wednesday, that dramatically increases health care contributions to generate $10 million in sorely-needed savings.
The détente between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 that gave her a crucial run-off endorsement may be short-lived.
Firefighters’ current contract expired in 2017, so the new four-year deal lasts only through June 30. And Budget Director Susie Park has warned that treasured union perks and staffing requirements costing taxpayers millions will be “back on the table” to help the city erase a 2021 budget shortfall Lightfoot now pegs at $1.25 billion.
The contract already has been ratified by a 76% vote. It includes a 10% raise with all but 2.5% retroactive.
In exchange, rank-and-file health care contributions rise 1.5 percentage points. For single coverage, firefighters and paramedics contributing 1.3% of salary will kick in 2.8%.