Monroe council rejects factfinder report on fire union contract

An arbitrator will decide the final pieces of a new three-year contract between Monroe and its firefighters and fire lieutenants after the city council unanimously voted to reject a factfinder’s report.

City negotiators and the union appeared before state Fact Finder Felicia Bernardini on Jan. 16. She issued her report on Feb. 21 on holidays, vacation, sick leave and wages for the 40 members of bargaining unit represented by the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3824.

The previous contract expired Oct. 1, 2019. Negotiation meetings were held in September and October, and both sides met with a State Employment Relations Board mediator before declaring an impasse and sending the case to factfinding.

The factfinder said the city’s proposed 2 percent wage increase “was somewhat low in comparison to (State Employee Relations Board) data, and wage settlement data from the relevant comparator groups; however it was not far out of the ballpark for a general cost of living adjustment.”

The union was proposing a 4 percent wage increase for each year of the new contract and a rank differential increase of 1 percent increase for ran; and certification incentive pay ranging from 1 to 2 percent, depending on position.

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Bernardini recommended a 2.5 percent cost of living increase for each year of the agreement and an additional market/equity adjustment of 3.5 percent increase over the term of the contract, 1.5 percent the first year of the contract and 1 percent for the second and third years of the contract.

Because of the focus on increasing wages, union proposals to reintroduce certification pay and a rank differential pay were declined.

Bernardini recommended a $2.50-per-hour bonus when a firefighter temporarily serves as an acting lieutenant.

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Bernardini declined union requests for call-in pay for “super holidays” at a rate of 2.25 times the regular rate of pay on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day as well as an increase in vacation accrual by 12 hours depending if the firefighter has less than four years of service or 24 hours for those with five years or more of service. She also declined a sick leave increase of two additional days.

City Manager Bill Brock said a date has not been determined when the sides will meet with the arbitrator.

Last year, firefighters responded to 1,203 fire calls and made 2,125 EMS runs.

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