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Firefighters make concessions in tough budget 

SLO city firefighters voluntarily deferred raises due them in July and agreed to forego pay raises in their next contract, which begins Jan. 1. Several more city unions have pledged to do the same, according to City Manager Ken Hampian. The city hopes to save $1.5 million over the next two years by postponing raises to several unions’ employees who are in the middle of their contracts, and by asking unions with expiring contracts to maintain current 
pay levels.
 
The fire union—San Luis Obispo City Firefighters Local 3523— has a contract with the city that ends in December. Under that contract firefighters are supposed to get 5 percent raises in July, but the group voted to postpone those raises, opting for a 3 percent raise in July 2010, and then a 2 percent raise in December 2010. The delay will save the city more than $300,000 
this year.

Fire union leader Erik Baskin said the group reached a tentative agreement with the city in late April, and ratified the agreement at the May 5 City Council meeting. “We wanted to ensure that the citizens of SLO continued to get the same level of protection that they deserve,” Baskin said. “This way there’s not going to be any layoffs, and none of our services are going to change.”

Hampian said every group that contracts with the city, including the police officers’ union, has tentatively agreed to freeze wages through 2010. The issue will be in front of the City Council May 19.

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