City offers fire union $380,000 package

HARLINGEN — The city has proposed a three-year contract boosting firefighter wages by about $380,500.

Yesterday, the city offered the local firefighters’ union a 2-percent increase in 2017-2018, 2-percent increase in 2018-2019 and a 2.5 percent increase in 2019-2020.

Union representatives will take the offer to members for a vote.

“There has been a hell of an effort to get to this point,” City Manager Dan Serna told union leaders near the end of a three-hour collective bargaining session.

“I’ve gone as far as I can go. I’ve presented the budget already and I can’t keep cutting.”

Union representatives had requested a 2-percent increase in 2017-2018, a 2-percent increase in 2018-2019 and a 5-percent increase in 2019-2020.

“I think what’s been shown in this administration is there’s a willingness to get there,” said Rafael Torres, service director with the Texas State Association of Firefighters.

“As city manager, you have been very receptive,” Torres told Serna. “You have been transparent. The whole process has been pretty good.”

Last year, the city and firefighters’ and police officers’ unions failed to reach agreements on new contracts, so firefighters and police officers have worked under the contract’s so-called evergreen clause, which expires Sept. 30.

Serna was expected to meet with the local police officers’ union yesterday afternoon.

Before that meeting, the city had offered the police officers a two-year contract boosting salaries by 1.5-percent in 2017-2018 and 1.5 percent in 2019-2018-2019, Serna said in an interview.

The proposed package would cost the city about $186,553.