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  1. #1
    E229Lt
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post How do you force a municipality to bargain "in good faith"

    Does anyone out there feel they have a advantage if an expired contract drags on for years. Do you get interest on retro' pay? If not, what forces a municipality to hammer out an agreement in a timely manner?


  2. #2
    WRENCH
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    It,s called binding arbitration.
    In NJ we used to have it where they had to award a package either the towns or the unions as a whole.It was changed a couple of years ago to where selected parts are arbitrated and awards based on that. Which is not necessarily bad because now you dont ty upthe entire contract for 1or 2 issues. We also have definite rules on what is allowable for arbitration. There is also mechanisim to arbitrate over whats allowable.

  3. #3
    FireLt1951
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    No we don't have an advantage. Actually it becomes a disadvantage for us. We have been forced into arbitration every contract since 1977.

    We are presently still in arbitration. The contract ended 3 years ago as of June 30th. We do not expect a ruling until september.

    We have parity with the police department and it took them over 2 years to get a contract.

    Both police and fire here have averaged 2-1/2 years to get an arbitrated contract and sometimes even longer.

    We usually get back pay but with no interest.We always try to get better equipment, training and staffing along with safety issues. The arbitrators have been relunctant to rule on the first 3, saying that it is management rights to set training standards and scheduals (which are a nightmare), equipment allocation( we have had to wear turnout gear for over 5 years without replacements) and staffing levels.

    The city refuses to discuss any of those 3 important factors. They more or less say, it's up to us and we're not going to give you anything unless you take less money and fewer benefits.

    It took us 6 years of constant battles with the mayor and the city council just to get them to agree to start to replace 20 year old rigs, training for drivers, replacement of 20 year old harness', ordering hose (every company in the city had no replacement hose), and the nightmare continues. The city fights us at every step.

    Arbitration has cost our union almost $500,000 already. The city even stated that they would break this union monetarily. Well that hasn't happened but it's close. I know the city has had to spend at least 4 to 5 times that for the top of the line law firm they hired to fight the police and fire unions.

    Nothing we have tried has even come close to forcing the city to settle. We even went public and got some satisfaction but not much. We will continue to fight but it's an uphill battle. MIOSHA was called in and they have started fining the city for not doing what should have been done long ago on the safety issues.

    [This message has been edited by FireLt1951 (edited 06-06-2001).]

  4. #4
    NozzleHog
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Have better lawyers than them.

    [This message has been edited by NozzleHog (edited 06-06-2001).]

  5. #5
    FireLt1951
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Originally posted by NozzleHog:
    Have better lawyers than them.

    [This message has been edited by NozzleHog (edited 06-06-2001).]
    Easier said than done, we already pay 2% of salary for union dues, we just agreed to an increase. We do not have the deep pockets the city has. It is amazing to me that the city says they can't afford bottles and harness', bunker gear, masks, hose etc. but can spend 4-5 million dollars fighting us. Because of the size of our local the International does little to help monetarily.



    [This message has been edited by FireLt1951 (edited 06-06-2001).]

  6. #6
    Smoke286
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Binding arbitration has never hurt us, Of course it doesnt hurt that the city's negotiators aren't the brightest

  7. #7
    Plug-Ugly
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Without binding arbitration or some type of mediation, local fire unions are at the mercy and good will of the city. We have no legal right to strike in most jurisdictions so therefore, no real bargaining leverage. Things like work slowdowns and not cleaning the stations have been tried but never seem to work. Mostly the city doesn't care if you want to live and work in a dirty station as long as it doesn't cost anything. Sick outs usually only last a short time and if you have no minimum manning provisions, companies can just get shut down so you end up hurting yourself by having fewer people to do the work. Lawful assembly and picketing may help if you can win over the puplic, but that is a difficult task since they feel they're paying our salary and we make too much already. Jealousy, I guess.

    The best solution is to try to negotiate binding arbitration into your contract so next time at least you have a fair chance at a fair and equitable contract.

  8. #8
    bfd1071
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    at the moment we are in a bitter contract talks with the mayor.We attempted the sit and bargin, but the city wouldnt have that. Last I heard the city has only offered 1 contract, but they offer it every day........lol.

    So as a union we have taken a in your face approach to the mayor. Where ever he is, we are. There with our signs. At the x-mas tree lightings we handed out candycanes, and protested the mayor. During parades. we follow beside him, so everytime he turns he see's a Contract Now sign and a smiling firefighter in his face. When he goes home, firefighters that live on his street all have big CONTRACT NOW signs hanging in there yards.

    We feel that since he is not willing to sit and talk we will embarrass him to high heaven. The good part is the residents are behind us.

  9. #9
    WRENCH
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Lt, I am sure all of out here feel bad for you guys working under the conditions you have. After reading those articles about what is going on in Detroit I would like to think that the citizens would be up arms.
    Could it be possible to try and get something going through the state legislature in the form of either laws or some kind of state financial aid to the city.
    Maybe your next recourse is to start filing lawsuits in the civilan courts either individual or as a group. The next time some one gets hurt start wacking them with personal injury lawsuits and see what happens. Grease the wheels and try to get citizens to sue for deaths and injuries becuase of low manning or delayed responces.
    Have you tried federal osha?
    Maybe all the city unions can team together in a common cause to finance the causes and hammer the city to get a solution.
    As far as unsafe apparatus, try using either state or federaldot standards to have the taken out of service and repaired. Refuse to drive them and put the ball in there court and let the city order you in writing to drive the rigs. I am sure the cities insurance carrier would love that.

  10. #10
    FireLt1951
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    rench:W

    Financial aid has been requested by a state representative from Detroit.

    9 lawsuits totalling 26 million has already been filed, which will take a few years the way the court system works.

    City has already settled other lawsuits totalling around 6 million.

    OSHA has helped and has been an asset, unfortunately at the cost of response time.

    The only 2 unions in the city the mayor refuses to settle with are police and fire. All other unions he seems to settle quickly because of the possibility of a strike.

    We have shut down apparatus on numerous occasions, again at the cost of response time.

    I feel like it's a two edged sword, we're damed if we do and damed if we don't.

    We will prevail as long as we can keep the problems posted in the news and in magazines such as Firehouse. It embarrases the administration.

    All the politicians that are running for mayor in November are beginning to promise the police and fire everything they need. Yeah right, like we haven't heard that one before.

    We will keep fighting as long as it takes and we will take what ever heat is necessary to get what we need.

    Thanks for your suggestions, gotta go to work.

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