The city of Delaware and its fire department will attempt to avoid arbitration on a new contract after City Council rejected a fact-finder’s recommendations.
“We’ve agreed to set something up to see if we can reach an agreement before arbitration,” said city attorney Darren Shulman in an email. “We’re trying to find a mutually agreeable date this month. It takes a while to get assigned an arbitrator and get the date scheduled, so we have some time to work on getting a deal done.”
After the current three-year contract expired on March 31, the city and the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 606, went to fact-finding on the labor contract. A fact-finder was appointed by the State Employment Relations Board in July, with two hearings in October.
“The parties had engaged in several bargaining sessions for a successor agreement prior to selection of the fact-finder,” the report states. “There were three mediation sessions facilitated by SERB. The fact-finder also engaged in extensive mediation efforts. These were unavailing.”
The fact-finder made recommendations regarding wages; shift differentials; pension pick-up; hours of work and overtime; Kelly Day (a full shift off in lieu of overtime); contracting out; earned time; promotions; respiratory medical certification committee; transfers and vacancies; continuation of existing benefits and changes of agreement; and the grievance procedure.
The union accepted the fact-finder’s report. However, on Nov. 23, less than a week after the report was issued, council voted 5-2 on a resolution to reject “the recommendations on unresolved issues pertaining to the modification of the collective bargaining agreement between the IAFF and the city of Delaware.”
Accepting the report would have had a “fiscal impact” and “significantly change how promotions are handled in the fire department,” the city’s fact sheet for council stated.
The union sought a 3.75 percent wage increase for all three years of a new collective bargaining agreement. The city proposed a 2 percent increase, which the fact-finder recommended.
The union wishes to include new language in the contract “to recognize seniority as a factor in promotion to a higher rank,” states the report. The city disagrees, stating it “has the right to handle promotion through means sanctioned in its charter,” the report said. The recommendations were to adopt most of the union’s language.
There are 60 employees in the fire department at three fire stations. Voters have approved a tax levy to build a fourth station in the future.