On September 8, 2023, the arbitration panel involving the City of Austin and the Austin Firefighters Association (AFA) defined the terms of a new labor contract. This contract is effective immediately and does not require any approval or other action by the City Council or the AFA.
Some of the key terms in the arbitration award are:
- A contract term that runs through September 30, 2025.
- Base wage increases of 4% for the City’s Fiscal Year 2023, 4% for Fiscal Year 2024, and 4% for Fiscal Year 2025. The FY23 and FY24 increases will be combined and will start with the first payroll in the 2024 fiscal year.
- Additional one-time lump sum payments to the firefighters.
- Additional pay stipends for firefighters in the Fire Department’s Wildfire Battalion, Arson Division, and Dispatch Division.
- An additional pay stipend for Assistant Fire Chiefs.
- Elimination of random drug testing and post-accident drug testing for firefighters. In addition, the award includes language that excuses firefighters from discipline who test positive for cannabis so long as they have a prescription for medical cannabis, are using it as prescribed, and are not impaired while on the job.
- Adding Juneteenth as a paid holiday for firefighters.
- Shortening the firefighters’ workweek by one hour, with this provision to be implemented by no later than the last month of the contract term. At the time the Fire Chief implements this change he will be able to fill one additional position on his executive staff by appointment rather than through the civil service promotion process.
This award concludes the interest arbitration proceeding that was initiated by the firefighters union in July 2022. Speaking about the award, Acting Assistant City Manager, Bruce Mills, said: “This arbitration has been a new and rather protracted process, but we are pleased with the arbitrator panel’s decision and award. We believe we have arrived at a good result for both the Austin Firefighters Association and the City. That said, and regardless of our belief that the arbitration panel delivered us a fair decision, going forward, our hope and continued goal is that we will be able to mutually achieve the next labor contract with the Firefighters Association through the collective bargaining process.”