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Negotiations Continue Over Firefighters' Contract

With Mayor Thomas M. Menino urging further contract concessions from the city's firefighters, negotiations continued Monday — just two days before Boston City Council is set to vote on the matter.

At issue is a year's 2.5 percent raise awarded to firefighters in exchange for random drug and alcohol testing as part of a controversial arbitration decision in April. Last week, hoping to gain City Council ratification of the contract, firefighters offered to delay their raise for one year.

Firefighter Negotiations Timeline:

And while Menino told WBUR Monday he's grateful for that concession, he said the city still can’t afford the deal.

“It’s still going to cost the City of Boston $100 million over the next 20 years,” Menino said. “These are times when we can’t afford to spend money that we don’t have.”

Menino said the contract might be workable if the raise only applies to firefighters currently working.

“My proposal is that the alcohol and drug testing compensation go only for firefighters on the job today, not in the future. I think it’s a reasonable proposal,” Menino said.

Though city councilors were initially receptive to the firefighters' concession, City-Councilor-At-Large John Connolly indicated that City Council is unlikely to ratify a contract unless the mayor is on board.

"I would be reluctant to vote for a compromise that wasn't signed by both parties," Connolly said.

Menino's stance led City Council to hold a previously unscheduled meeting Monday with representatives from the mayor's office and the firefighters union. Negotiations were paused late Monday morning so parties could attend the funeral of the father of Rep. Marty Walsh.

WBUR's Fred Thys and Mark Degon contributed reporting.

This program aired on June 7, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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