Streetsboro firefighters want better wages, but city holds firm in contract negotiations

Jeremy Brown/The Portager

Streetsboro firefighters have been working for months without a contract, but the city and union remain unable to reach an agreement on compensation, vacations and holidays.

A State Employees Relations Board fact finder has sided with the city on all three issues, but the union isn’t giving up.

Nor does it have to: The fact finder’s recommendations are not binding on either party.

International Association of Firefighters Local 4281 represents Streetsboro’s Fire Department’s nine full-time firefighters, three full-time lieutenants, four full-time captains and two full-time firefighters working in fire prevention bureau positions. The department provides firefighting, EMS, fire education, fire prevention, fire investigation and other first responder services for the city.

An additional 22 part-time employees have a separate bargaining unit.

The full-time firefighters have been working without a contract since their previous agreement expired Dec. 31, 2023. Three bargaining sessions occurred on Oct. 25, 2023, Nov. 29, 2023, and Jan. 29, 2024, but the fact finder’s report notes that the meetings ended in an impasse.


The firefighters’ most recent contract featured annual 2.25% rate hikes, with firefighters earning $67,726 to $75,231 annually through 2023, depending on longevity.

The union wants full-time firefighters to be paid $72,821 to $82,001, depending on their longevity with SFD, for 2024. The union’s 2025 wage request was $76,036 to $84,461, again depending on longevity. The union’s 2026 demand was $78,317 to $86,995, depending on longevity.

The proposed wage hikes represent a 6% base pay and 3% increase for this year, and 3% increases for 2025 and 2026.

The city proposed a $500 base pay increase and a 3% rate hike for 2024, bringing this year’s wages to $70,272 to $78,003; 2025 wages at $72,381 to $80,343; and 2026 wages at $74,552 to $82,753. The 2025 and 2026 figures represent additional 3% pay increases.

On March 8, 2024, the firefighters provided SERB with a written summary of their positions, and a fact-finding hearing took place on March 22 at Streetsboro City Hall. An April 24 fact finder’s report concluded that the city is in “a strong fiscal position,” and that “the ability to fund a wage increase is not in question.”

However, taking into account past union agreements, previous fact-finding reports, internal and external comparables and this fall’s negotiations with union police, SERB fact finder John (Jack) Buettner recommended that the union accept the city’s wage offer.

According to that report, the city argued that wage comparisons with other communities is invalid. Firefighters in Aurora and Tallmadge work more hours, so “it only follows” that their pay would exceed Streetsboro’s, the city stated. Also, comparing strictly wages does not take into account the amount Streetsboro contributes to employees’ health insurance premiums.

The city also argued that comparing firefighters’ and police officers’ wages ignores total compensation. In 2023, the city stated, firefighters’ total compensation package, including wages, longevity and pension, was $99,056. For patrol officers, it was $99,329.

Under the proposed city contract, this year, firefighters’ total annual compensation would actually exceed patrol officers.

City negotiators agreed that Streetsboro’s general fund balance is healthy, but said the amount is needed to fund “numerous capital projects such as a new City Center and a new City Hall.”

“We had our reasons [for the offer],” Streetsboro Mayor Glenn Broska said. “They were spelled out in the fact finder’s report. We stand behind our offer, and we believe it is a fair and equitable offer.”


Regarding vacations, the union wanted employees with 11-15 years of full-time service to have 240 hours of vacation, those with 16-19 years of full-time service to have 288 hours and those with more than 19 years to have 336 hours.

Under the union’s most recent contract, employees with 11-15 years of full-time service have 240 hours of vacation and anyone with over 16 years of full-time service gets 288 hours.

The union also requested that the fire prevention bureau captain and the two firefighters who serve on the fire prevention bureau would receive 208 vacation hours in their 16th year and increase by eight hours a year until their 20th year, when they would earn 240 vacation hours.

They now max out 200 hours.

The city argued that no change in vacation is needed and said that changing the vacation schedule for firefighters would have a ripple effect when other bargaining units negotiate their contracts.

Under the contract now in effect, vacation time tops out at 15 years of service, when those employees earn 200 hours.

The fact finder sided with the city, stating that the current contract language should remain in place. The union’s proposal to attain parity with Streetsboro police would actually give firefighters an “enhanced benefit,” the report concluded.


Holidays were the third issue, with the union demanding double-time pay for employees who work on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. The union held that its members, all of them full-time, work those shifts alongside part-time firefighters, and only get time-and-a-half pay while the part-timers receive double pay.

The city objected to any change in holiday compensation, pointing out that union contracts in surrounding communities all stipulate time-and-a-half pay for firefighters scheduled to work on holidays.

The fact finder again sided with the city, noting that “full-time employees enjoy many other perks that part-timers do not.” That part-timers receive double pay may actually be an incentive for them to work holidays, allowing the full-time employees to have those days off, the report stated.

Broska declined to comment on the vacation and holidays points.

What’s next?

Attorney Ryan J. Lemmerbrock, a member of the union’s bargaining team, said the parties will proceed to conciliation where an arbiter will make “a final and binding decision” on the firefighters’ labor contract with the city.

Either the parties will agree on an arbiter in the coming days, or SERB will appoint one and a conciliation hearing will be scheduled. Exactly when, Lemmerbrock could not say.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.