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PHILADELPHIA FIRE FIGHTERS WIN MINIMUM STAFFING IN NEW CONTRACT

 PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Fire Fighters' Union President Les Yost hailed a new contract which establishes minimum staffing levels for fire fighters in Philadelphia: "I applaud the decision of the arbitration panel to stop further reductions in the Philadelphia Fire Department and in so doing to recognize the clear relationship between staffing and fire fighter safety. Attention to the safety of fire fighters is long overdue in the city of Philadelphia."
 A panel of arbitrators, on which Yost served, issued the terms of a new contract between the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Fire Fighters Union, Local 22, nearly two years after the collective bargaining process started. The award prohibits the city from staffing engine companies with fewer than one officer and three fire fighters and ladder companies with fewer than one officer and four fire fighters. The city had announced plans to reduce ladder strength to one and three last year. During the arbitration process, the fire fighters' union presented extensive testimony and evidence from expert witnesses, including the former commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, John O'Rourke, linking increased fire fighter injuries to reductions in staffing in the Philadelphia Fire Department. The panel also cited the persuasive arguments of Yost and two injured fire fighters, Dennis Bonner and James Williamson, in granting the safety manning provisions.
 The award also granted increased life insurance benefits to active fire fighters and supplemental retirement benefits to fire fighter retirees. The basic economic package, however, was similar to that awarded by an earlier panel to the Fraternal Order of Police. Lower starting rates and revised hospitalization and disability plans were criticized by Yost. "I recognize that the panel felt constrained by the FOP award but, the extreme reduction in starting pay and the gutting of the city's disability system is still unconscionable. It was the wrong thing for police and it's wrong for fire fighters." Yost vowed to challenge the changes to the disability system in court.
 While the fire fighters' contract is more generous than that of the Fraternal Order of Police, Yost pointed to the staffing provision as the union's most significant victory. "The city must understand that it cannot remedy its financial crisis by endangering the lives of our members," said Yost.
 The contract is effective retroactive to July 1, 1992, and will expire on July 1, 1996.
 /delval/
 -0- 11/23/93
 /CONTACT: Les Yost, president of International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 22, 215-440-4400/


CO: International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 22 ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:

MK-JM -- PH010 -- 7195 11/23/93 10:30 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 23, 1993
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