Excerpts from the ChicagoSunTimes.com:

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has cut a one-year deal with the Chicago Firefighters Union that includes $95 million in back pay but would nearly double employee health care contributions. One union official said rank-and-file members are not happy about the hike in health care costs, though the contract also maintains treasured union perks and outdated staffing requirements that cost taxpayers millions. The deal still must be ratified. The current contract expired June 30, 2017. The new agreement runs through June 30, 2021. It includes a 10% pay raise with all but 2.5% of it retroactive.

The mayor’s office said the higher health care contributions by employees would save taxpayers roughly $7 million a year. Active members will have to pay an additional 1.5% of their salaries towards health care costs. The deal also raises the salary cap for those contributions to $115,000. Firefighters and paramedics would continue to be eligible for retiree health care at age 55. But, the new deal would require future retirees between 55 and 60 to contribute 3% toward their health care costs. Those between 60 and 62 would contribute 1.5% of their retirement annuity toward their benefit.

“The men and women of the Chicago Fire Department have been on the front lines of a crisis that is entirely without precedent in our city,” Lightfoot said in a statement issued by her office.

Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel had been close to a new firefighters’ contract that would have traded health insurance concessions for a reduction in daily “variances” from the minimum manning requirement that triggered the bitter 1980 firefighters strike. That rule requires every piece of fire apparatus to be staffed by at least five employees. But time ran out on Emanuel’s second term before the deal got done.

Lightfoot has talked about seeking some of those same concessions, but settled for only one major one — higher employee and retiree contributions toward the rising cost of health care.

Veteran paramedic Pat Fitzmaurice was even more disappointed in Lightfoot, who benefited greatly when Local 2 endorsed her over County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “She lied. She said more ambulances and we got no more ambulances,” Fitzmaurice wrote in a text message.

Lightfoot said she looks forward to returning to the bargaining table soon to work in collaboration with Local 2 on operational reforms needed to modernize and continue the excellence of CFD.

Kristen Cabanban, a spokesperson for the city’s Office of Budget and Management, refused to say how the city would cover the $95 million cost of back pay at a time when the stay-at-home shutdown has already blown a $700 million hole in Lightfoot’s precariously-balanced, 2020 budget.

The union also won increases in vacation days, holiday and overtime pay, and promotional concessions. Local 2 also won more divers and strict guarantees on distribution of personal protective equipment. The $50 penalty for failure to participate in the city’s wellness program would be waived.