LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago firefighters and paramedics have agreed to join a wellness program for city workers that could have an impact on their next contract.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed the plan as a way to drive down costs by keeping employees healthier.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports

City Council Public Safety Committee Chairman Ald. James Balcer (11th) told the Chicago Tribune that firefighters could be trying to pave the way for smooth contract talks next year by volunteering to join the wellness plan.

Under the program, workers who do not participate by exercising more, watching their nutrition, and quitting smoking, could see their premiums rise.

Refusing to take part could force a worker to pay $50 per month more for his or her insurance premium. If the worker’s spouse does not take part, it could cost the worker an additional $50.

Mayor Emanuel expects the plan could save as much as $60 million per year.

With the firefighters’ union joining in, about 5,100 firefighters and paramedics and 3,400 of their spouses will be entered in, the Tribune reported.

The Fraternal Order of Police still has not agreed to join the plan.

Mayor Emanuel has heretofore refused to rule out seeking to close firehouses and reduce the number of personnel on each truck in order to cut costs.

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