YONKERS — The city is set to hire 35 firefighters Friday amid a battle with the union over how much they should be paid.
The existing firefighters contract promises a $70,996 starting salary plus benefits such as unlimited sick leave. But Mayor Mike Spano has been pushing for a lower salary, arguing that the current pay level is no longer tenable for his cash-strapped city.
Yonkers firefighters have been without a new contract since their last one expired in 2009. Their union and the city are set to enter state-supervised mediation next month after talks on a new pact dissolved last year over such issues as starting wages, staffing levels and sick leave.
Spano spokeswoman Christina Gilmartin said Wednesday that the new firefighters’ starting salary is “not defined yet” and will be negotiated while the firefighters are in training.
Yonkers Fire Local 628 president Barry McGoey said he welcomed the hiring of more firefighters, which he said will help counter a chronic staffing shortage in the department that has driven up overtime costs.
Still, McGoey said that with 45 vacancies as of Wednesday, the department will still be shortstaffed after the new class is hired. He added that 20 senior members are expected to retire this year.
Friday’s swearing-in ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at the Yonkers riverfront library.