TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — After more than 12 months, Tulsa firefighters and the city of Tulsa have reached a contract agreement.
Tulsa Firefighters IAFF Local 176, which represents more than 700 current and retired members of the Tulsa Fire Department, said an arbitrator sided with the city of Tulsa when the union and the city couldn't reach an agreement.
The arbitration panel decided to award raises ranging 4-12% based on years of service, as well as a one-time 4% stipend.
“While we are disappointed with the outcome, we are grateful there is a process in place to ensure a path forward,” said IAFF Local 176 Labor Attorney Pat Hunt. “It is past time for the men and women of the Tulsa Fire Department to be adequately compensated for the life-saving work they perform each and every day.”
Tulsa IAFF said, according to wage analyses presented during negotiations and arbitration, Tulsa firefighters were ranked last in a national comparison of similar cities and 16th in Oklahoma.
“Such a critical disparity must be addressed, and this award will only be a small step in that direction,” said IAFF Local 176 President Matt Lay. “The firefighting profession is filled with new and complicated threats. We no longer just respond to fires or emergency medical calls. Our members now deploy to every manner of large-scale natural disaster, battle the effects of a national opioid epidemic on our streets, bridge the gaps for patients struggling with mental health through crisis response teams, and have now spent nearly two years on the frontline of the COVID-19 Pandemic. For Tulsa Fire to remain a premier all-hazards response agency, we must be competitive with the market to recruit and retain the highest quality candidates to our ranks. We will continue to advocate for a fair and equitable wage for our members in coming years.”
Mayor G.T. Bynum released a statement Wednesday about the new contract:
“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.”