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In a special meeting tonight, Jackson City Council members voted to ratify a new, five-year contract between the city of Jackson and the Summit-Jackson Professional Firefighters Union Local 1306.

The agreement highlights, among other provisions, wage increases for firefighters, health insurance changes and pension reforms which will help stabilize retiree costs associated with former city firefighters and the city’s Act 345 pension fund.

“The union is very pleased with the way negotiations went over the past week,” union president Scott Stoker said. “The outcome was fair. Changes to our pension system were done in the best interest of our membership and the city.”

In order to retire with pension benefits, the minimum years of service for firefighters was increased to 33 years for new hires, employees hired between 2004 and 2012 will work 28 years to see those same benefits, and employees hired between 2012 and 2016 will work 29 years.

All employees hired under the new contract will not be eligible for city-paid health insurance in retirement, as was the policy. Full-time employees will participate in the retiree health savings plan and become vested in the plan after three years of service.

Wage increases for firefighters were also agreed to by both parties, ranging from 1.75 percent to 3 percent. Employees hired on or after July 1, 2012, who were on a lower wage scale, received larger raises over the life of the contract.

“We’re pleased with the outcomes of negotiations, and I believe the union is also pleased with how things turned out,” City Manager Patrick Burtch said. “It was a win-win for all those involved, and a successful negotiating process.” The vote of the council was unanimous.

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