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City, Firefighters Union Agree on Single Health Insurance Provider

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The layoff of 150 city workers has been averted. Mayor Anthony Masiello and Buffalo firefighters union president Joe Foley managed to reached agreement Sunday after a big battle.

Masiello and Foley held five hours of negotiations with Common Council Majority leader Marc Coppola acting as mediator. The two sides managed to reach a deal on a single health insurance provider.

Masiello came down hard on the firefighters last week as he tried to finalize the city's proposed budget. He called for the acceleration of some planned fire house closings and 67 firefighter layoffs. The Mayor said Foley backed out of an original promise to join the health plan.

But Foley said he wanted a guarantee that out-of-pocket health costs would not be passed on to members. Foley says they were able to clear the air and come to terms on issue that affected both sides. He says the health care contribution percentage will remain the same for his union members.

"There is a guarantee that they are not to change our benefits for a period of time. We came to terms on that," Foley said. "We agreed to leave the formula or percentage of our contribution as it is today."

The union's rank and file must now ratify the deal. By placing three thousand city workers under one health insurance plan, Buffalo is expected to save $7 million dollars in the upcoming fiscal year.