City of Delaware, firefighters go to arbitration on new contract


The city of Delaware and its firefighters have gone to arbitration on a new contract.

“Presentations to the arbitrator were held Monday and Tuesday,” wrote city attorney Darren Shulman in an email. “The next step is him issuing a decision.”

Shulman said there won’t be a strike.

“In Ohio, safety forces (police and fire) can’t strike,” Shulman said. “Instead, there is a binding arbitration process in which a neutral third-party arbitrator makes a decision on the disputed issues.”

After the current three-year contract expired on March 31, 2015, the city and the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 606, went to fact-finding on a new 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 stated. “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 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 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 wishes to include new language in the contract “to recognize seniority as a factor in promotion to a higher rank,” states the report. The recommendations were to adopt most of the union’s language. The city disagrees, stating it “has the right to handle promotion through means sanctioned in its charter,” the report said.

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.

By Gary Budzak

[email protected]

Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

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