The town didn’t declare impasse with its firefighter union at its Nov. 1 contract negotiations.
Instead, after more than two hours of negotiations, the town and firefighters agreed to meet again at 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15. The town’s labor attorney, W. Reynolds Allen, said that the town would meet “three, four, five days in a row” if necessary to determine if it can reach an agreement with its firefighters.
“We don’t want this to drag on forever,” Allen said. “It’s costing money for every time that we do this.”
The latest round of negotiations have been ongoing since March and have focused primarily on the firefighter pension since early May, when Town Manager Dave Bullock proposed freezing the plan and setting up 401(a) accounts for future employee benefits. Firefighters have said the proposal is unacceptable to them and that their union has presented fair alternative proposals to the town.
Thursday’s negotiations didn’t bring the town and its firefighters any closer to resolving the pension issue.
Toward the end of the meeting, firefighters said that they wanted to discuss other contract issues and presented a proposed contract that included their pension proposal and bringing back step increases for firefighters, who, like other town employees, have not received increases since 2008.
The proposed contract would bring employees to their “proper step” — i.e. the classification they would be at had step increases continued.
For example, the firefighters propose that a six-year firefighter who is only at Step 2 instead of Step 6 because of pay freezes would rise to Step 6.
For more information, pick up a Nov. 8 copy of the Longboat Observer.