Fire union to vote next week on revised proposal

Proposal union gave to city had ‘significant changes,’ says Local 336 president.

The city and its fire union have yet to reach a deal that would save 11 firefighter jobs by Aug. 16, but union members could vote on a proposal next week.

The city issued 11 letters last month to the junior members of the Middletown Division of Fire — those with seven years of experience and less — notifying them that they would be laid off on Aug. 16. In all, 15 positions would be cut from the department — four of them through attrition.

Officials with International Association of Fire Fighters Local 336 have been trying to negotiate with the city to avoid those layoffs. The two sides met on July 31, and then again on Monday and Wednesday.

Local 336 President Greg Justice said the framework of a proposal presented to city officials had “significant changes,” and union membership will vote on those changes over three days next week.

“We met on Wednesday (with city officials), and the framework changed,” said Justice, a captain with the city fire department. “We decided to kick it to the membership for them to vote on it.”

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City Manager Doug Adkins said Thursday that there is no update on talks with the union, writing in an email: “Still negotiating.”

Adkins previously told City Council at a July 29 retreat that the union had considered “some brand new concepts” and are still working toward a compromise. He wouldn’t provide any insight on what a potential compromise could involve, but Justice told the Journal-News they were considering incorporating part-time firefighters. The city department is entirely full-time right now.

Cutting the firefighter positions and closing Station 84 on Tytus Avenue could save about $1 million in the city’s budget. Station 84. which services the northern part of the city, was built in the 1950s and needs a number of significant repairs, among which is the roof, fire Chief Steve Botts said.

Closing the station but keeping the utilities active would save the city about $20,000 annually, according to Botts. Disconnecting the utilities and mothballing the station would double that savings, he said.

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