City Council Approves Union Wage Changes

// Candidate interviews set for next week to fill vacant council seat

Tacoma City Council’s first meeting of the year did not have fireworks or hot-button issues since the 2013 budget was already passed, but several interesting issues filled the agenda.

On the symbolic front, the council unanimously approved a resolution encouraging Fisher Communications to return to the negotiation table with the city-owned Click! Network regarding the retransmission or “carriage fees” the television giant charges the cable provide to broadcast its stations.

Fisher stations, namely KOMO Channel 4, an ABC affiliate, have been blacked out to Click costumers since the first of the year, when a one-year deal expired.

Also on the agenda was the annual wage changes for city workers covered by union contracts through Teamsters Local 313; Tacoma Firefighters Union, Local 31; Tacoma Police Union, Local 6, I.U.P.A.; Tacoma Police Management Association, Local 26, I.U.P.A; and Professional Public Safety Management Association.

“They are not new contracts,” Fire Chief James Duggan said

The annual wage changes are part of the current contracts and cover cost of living increases based on wages from comparable positions in similar cities. Tacoma’s firefighters, for example, receive wage changes to always place its unionized firefighters in second place on wages and benefits compared to Bellevue, Kent, Everett, Spokane and Pierce County Fire and Rescue. That translates to a 0.7 percent increase this year. A first-year firefighter is paid $22.68 an hour under the new scale, for example. An entry-level police officer is paid $26.88 an hour.

Councilmember Marty Campbell, who represents the East Side, was appointed to serve a one-year term as deputy mayor, an honorary position that rotates among council members. He replaces Councilmember Joe Lonergan, whose term ended Dec. 31.

In other council news, interviews to fill the seat vacated by Jake Fey, who left to serve in the State House of Representatives, are set for noon on Jan. 15 in the Council Chambers. The interviews of Monica Alexander, Philip Cowan, David D' Aniello, Carolyn Edmonds, Jon Higley, Patricia Lecy-Davis and Robert Thoms to fill the council position will be broadcast live on the city’s website and television station.

The candidates will have three minutes to make a statement about their qualifications for the position before fielding questions from council members.

The study session will then go into a closed session for deliberations, which will likely lead to a motion to appoint one of the seven candidates to the council that will be part of the council’s evening agenda. Council members are part-time city workers and are paid $41,269 a year.
The live streaming of the interviews will be available on  www.tvtacoma.com and on TV Tacoma, Channel 12 in Tacoma city limits on both Click! and Comcast cable systems. 

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