TULSA, Okla. — A panel of three arbitrators agreed with the City of Tulsa's plan for firefighter pay, the city announced Wednesday.
The city and firefighter's union had been at odds over a plan for wage increases for the last year.
“To say we're disappointed is a fair statement,” Matt Lay, Tulsa Firefighter Union President, said.
The arbitration panel ruled in favor of the city's plan which includes a wage increase of between 11% and 13% for all ranks and steps except the highest step in each rank, which will receive a 4% wage increase.
“Now it’s going to take firefighters longer to make it to that topped out pay step,” Lay said.
The increase comes in addition to a 4% retention stipend for all members hired prior to Jan. 1, 2021, and still employed as of Dec. 31, 2021.
The City says it had already implemented two Satisfactory Performance Increases (SPIs or step increases), ranging from 4% to 17%, as part of the settlement of the Fiscal Year 2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum released the following statement after Wednesday's ruling:
“This ruling in favor of the City will allow us to make a historic increase in pay for Tulsa firefighters - making us more competitive for the best recruits and honoring the sacrifices of the men and women who work in the best fire department in America. In addition to significant permanent raises, it will also allow us to pay the 4% retention bonus earned by those firefighters who have served our community throughout the pandemic. I am grateful we can finally resolve this contract and get Tulsa firefighters the pay they have earned.”
Lay agrees it will make them more competitive, but says it would've been better if the city had accepted their offer for an 11.1% raise for all.
He also says while the mayor calls it a historic raise, it’s not that for all firefighters.
“For the two-thirds of the fire department that got a 4% raise, it didn’t feel historic. It did not feel like something outside the bounds especially when you saw historic landmark raises offered to both police officers, dispatcher, and others in the public safety sectors,” said Union President Lay.
He even tells us there are some discrepancies in their offer that still need to be resolved.
“There was some text in their last proposal, the last best offer, that did not match the pay chart that they actually presented. So there's some reconciliation that has to happen.”
The city says the arbitration panel determined that the city's plan was the more reasonable approach to compensate firefighters while maintaining the city budget.
The pay raise keeps City of Tulsa firefighters 24% ahead of the average pay for firefighters in the Tulsa area and brings them ahead of the average pay of similarly-sized cities states, according to the city.
To illustrate the impact of the City’s offer to IAFF, which was $6.8M, a member who was on the G/02 step as of July 1 will receive an immediate 16% increase and, concurrent with his or her anniversary date, another move to the I/04 step, for a total increase of 21% this fiscal year. Finally, the member will also receive the additional 4% retention stipend.
- Current FD01 G/02 Step: $46,633.60
- Proposed FD01 I/04 Step: $56,468.27
- Increase: $9,834.67
- +4% retention stipend (if after anniversary date): $2,258.73
- Total new compensation in current fiscal year: $12,093.40, or 26% of FY21 wages.
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