Firefighters, Haverhill Reach Accord After Nearly 3 Years of Wrangling; Formally Adds to High St. Manning

Haverhill Mayor Melinda E. Barrett in front of the Bradford Fire Station. (Mike Jarvis photograph for WHAV News.)

The city and Haverhill firefighters that have worked nearly three years without a contract said Friday they have reached an understanding that will bring retroactive cost-of-living raises, a one-time “special wage adjustment” this year and various stipend and shift differential increases.

Haverhill firefighters will receive a raise of 1.75% for the year that began July 1, 2022 and 2% increases each for the next two years of the new contract plus a “special wage adjustment” in the current year of 3.25%. Raises and adjustments over the three-year period will cost $581,000.

The city also agreed to additional amounts for increasing the shift differential from 11% to 12.25%; those working hazardous duty from $1,450 to $2,500 extra per year; emergency medical technician stipends of $5,000 or $6,000 annually, depending on training; and amounts related to clothing allowances, etc. These increases along with the additional cost of overtime during the contract period come to about $659,000—or about 5% more each year, according to an estimate from Human Resources Director Denise McClanahan.

Both sides acknowledged animosity between the previous administration of Mayor James J. Fiorentini and firefighters’ union.

“One of my first goals upon assuming office was to resolve the long and at times contentious contract dispute between the fire union and the prior administration. I am proud to say that we were able to reach this agreement within the first five weeks of my tenure,” said Mayor Melinda E. Barrett.

Union President Tim Carroll said, “The Haverhill Firefighters Local 1011 are grateful for a fair contract from the Barrett administration. Negotiating with Mayor Barrett was a breath of fresh air after being out of contract for over 900 days during the previous mayoral administration. We are sure that better days lie ahead working with Mayor Barrett and the current Haverhill City Council.”

The new contract also puts in writing a previously approved increase in the number of firefighters at the High Street fire station from 12 to 16. It also puts an end to an idea to use civilian dispatchers that was never implemented. Firefighters working paid details—required at construction or related sites when there is a fire risk—will see a $20 increase to $68 per hour starting upon contract ratification.

The Barrett administration said the extra $1.2 million is already set aside in the current budget. The agreement doesn’t become final until ratification by both sides. Haverhill city councilors are expected to place the agreement on file Tuesday for the required 10 days before acting on it.

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