Fairfield, fire union heading to conciliation

IAFF Local 4010 and the city of Fairfield will head toward conciliation after City Council rejected the fact-finder's report. NICK GRAHAM/FILE
IAFF Local 4010 and the city of Fairfield will head toward conciliation after City Council rejected the fact-finder's report. NICK GRAHAM/FILE

City Council rejects fact-finder report after nearly a year of contract negotiations for new 3-year deal

FAIRFIELD ― City Council unanimously rejected a fact-finder’s report on negotiations with the local firefighters union on Monday, which results in the city and IAFF Local 4010 going to conciliation.

The city and union have come to terms with most of a new three-year contract retroactively effective on April 1, but there are eight unresolved issues, including wage increases and health care.

Since IAFF is a non-strike bargaining unit, the matter will go to a conciliator provided by the State Employment Relations Board. Unlike with a fact-finder, a conciliator will not provide a recommendation. Both sides will present their best offers to the conciliator, who will choose one offer for each of the eight issues.

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Local 4010 President Jamie Viers said the IAFF is “disappointed that after 10 months of negotiating with the city and receiving a ruling from an independent neutral, the city has decided to reject the report. Regardless, our personnel will continue to serve the residents and guests of Fairfield as we search for resolution.”

City officials declined to comment as the negotiations are still on-going.

The fact-finder offered recommendations on three of the eight sticking points:

Fair share fees: Fair share fees to be paid by non-union members still represented by the union have been deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, but the IAFF wants to keep the language in the contract in the event of a reversal of that case. The city wants to eliminate the language, as it has with the AFSCME and IUOE bargaining units.

Wages: The city and IAFF were off on contractual raises in the new three-year CBA, so the fact-finder recommended the union receive an annual 2.5 percent wage increase effective on April 1 2020 and 2021, and the sides reopen wage negotiations in January 2022.

Longevity: The union wants to see an increase in longevity paid to bring the IAFF “into parity with the FOP. The city said it offered increases in 2018. The fact-finder recommended a 0.25 percent step increases in anniversary years 10, 15 and 20 with the city.

For the remaining five issues, the fact-finder recommended maintaining the current contract language:

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Holidays: The union wants to add three observed holidays for paid days off, though the city said it’s “not warranted at this time” and the department has the “greatest number of hours paid” related to holiday pay.

Vacation and Leaves of Absence: The city wants to alter how vacation time and leave of absences are accrued for new hires beginning Jan. 1. The city would not change the accrual process for current employees in order to compete with other departments. The union says that creates two classifications of employees which could "erode the cohesion of the bargaining unit.”

Fitness: The union proposed a new fitness benefit, similar to the incentive in the Fraternal Order of Police’s union contract. The city said unlike with the police department, firefighters have the ability to workout while on duty and there is no need for a fitness incentive.

Healthcare: The city is moving its non-union employees to the Butler Health Plan as of Jan. 1, and wants unions to join. The union argues it will lose its input on choosing healthcare coverage. In addition to keeping the current contract language, the fact-finder recommended the sides re-open negotiations in January 2022.

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