WOFD and administration verbally agree to new contract

WEST ORANGE, NJ — After 14 months working without a contract, the West Orange Fire Department has verbally agreed to a new one, with the two unions representing the department — FMBA Local 28 and the WOFD Superior Officers Association — voting on and accepting the mayor and administration’s contract proposal. The contract has not been presented to the West Orange Township Council yet, and has not been ratified or signed.

FMBA Local 28 President Angelo Tedesco said in an interview with the West Orange Chronicle on March 7 that the details of the contract cannot be disclosed until further negotiations surrounding non-monetary issues are resolved and the council votes. However, the monetary details are public.

According to Tedesco, the contract is for five years and will end at the end of 2022. There will be no raises in 2019, but the department will receive 3-percent raises in 2020, 2021 and 2022. The raises will come in July of those years. In addition, the contract includes a one-time stipend of $1,000 for trained EMTs.

Another stipulation of the contract is that no firefighters hired after 2018 will be given health benefits in retirement.

“They will be covered the entire time they’re with the department, whether they stay with the department for five years, 20 years or 30 years,” Tedesco said.

Mayor Robert Parisi said in a phone interview with the Chronicle on March 11 that the negotiations went about the same as previous ones, despite the department working without a contract for more than a year.

“A contract has never been agreed on before it expires,” Parisi said. “So it wasn’t any different than it has been.”

He said that it could be up to a month before the Township Council votes on the contract. The union lawyers and the township lawyers both have to review the terms and rewrite the contract in full.

“It’s hard to say,” Parisi said about the timeline. “We agreed to the terms, but the actual contract has to be written and reviewed.”

Capt. Joe Matullo, president of the WOFD Superior Officers Association Local 228, said the SOA also voted in favor of the contract.

“We negotiate in good faith,” Matullo said in a phone interview with the Chronicle on March 11. “Negotiations took a while, but we made sure it was something that the unions wanted and we went from there.”