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Longboat Key Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010 7 years ago

Town declares impasse

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The town is fed up with the Longboat Key Fire Rescue union and does not wish to continue negotiating a three-year contract.

Labor attorney Reynolds Allen, of Allen, Norton & Blue, declared an impasse on the negotiations. He sent a letter regarding the matter to Keith Tanner, a firefighter/paramedic and district vice president for the Longboat Key District of International Association of Firefighters.

Allen wrote in a letter dated Feb. 9: “The town manager’s negotiating team rejects the proposal made (by the fire union) and has nothing further to propose. Consequently, in light of the fact that the (union) has advised it is unwilling to accept any of our three proposals, the town manager declares impasse.”

Because one of the sides has declared impasse, a special magistrate will be called upon to review proposals presented by both sides and make a decision that’s not legally binding.

However, Allen notes in his letter that the town manager is willing to waive a special magistrate hearing and take the impasse items directly to the Town Commission for a final resolution.

The town rejected the union’s latest offer Feb. 5, because the union asked for one wage increase in year two and two wage increases in year three of the contract.

The town has consistently said it will not spend any money in a new contract and does not want to give raises to the firefighters, when it has not committed to giving other employees raises.

Allen has told the firefighters at several meetings that the town is in no position to offer anything in a contract that involves monetary contributions by the town.

And the firefighters have continued to argue the town has more than enough money ($4.7 million in reserves) to pay them their wage- and cost-of-living increases, which they believe were offered to them as part of their contracts when they were hired.

The firefighters have rejected offers made by the town for new three-year contracts, which included a new work-week schedule.

Tanner said the union is still weighing its options and has not made a decision on whether to waive the right to a special magistrate or allow the commission to make a decision.

“Whatever the commission decides would be a final decision through the end of the fiscal year and, then, we would have to begin negotiations again,” Tanner said. “I think our last offer was a very fair one, and it’s unfortunate the town has decided to declare impasse.”

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]

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