Kirksville Fire Fighters Winning Fight for Fair Contract
March 22, 2013 – Kirksville, MO Local 2952 fire fighters and the City of Kirksville, Missouri, are on the right path to negotiating a fair contract after Local 2952 demanded the City take a longer look at the agreement’s provisions. The City’s most recent proposal had threatened to eliminate many fire fighter benefits.
“I am proud of Local 2952 and everyone who stepped in to assist in this effort,” says IAFF 2nd District Vice President Mark Woolbright. “And we are not done. We will remain focused on this issue until a just contract is reached.”
Problems between Local 2952 and the City began when Local 2952 asked City officials if they would consider changing the shift schedule from 24 hours on and 48 hours off to 48 hours on and 96 hours off on a trial basis.
“We simply wanted to see if a different schedule would work better,” says Local 2952 President Jeremy Davis. “All we were asking the City for was permission to try it out.”
However, City leadership misunderstood and decided to reopen the entire contract. The City’s negotiating team claimed that the schedule change would cost the City $20,000. City Manager Mari Macomber asserted that the fire fighters would need to give many concessions, including reductions in overtime pay, vacation and sick leave and other cuts. The cuts, if implemented, would have reduced fire fighters annual pay up to $900 each.
“When you consider that a topped out fire fighter/EMT makes $12 an hour, $900 is too harsh of a pill to swallow,” says Davis. “Additionally, the schedule change should have been a no-cost item. We could not accept their proposal.”
As it was becoming clear that an agreement would not come easily, Davis sought the advice of District Vice President Woolbright, who then sent District Field Service Representative Mark Fuller to assist.
“The city manager had presented what she called the ‘final’ offer,” says Fuller. “I assisted the local with formulating an appropriate reply, but the City was not willing to listen.”
The vote on whether to impose the city manager’s proposed contract on Local 2952 went onto the docket for the March 18 City Council meeting. Fire fighters packed City Hall ready to argue their position when the move to implement the contract went to public comment.
When the issue came up on the schedule, the Council skipped the public comment
requirement and voted to impose the contract. However, it was brought to the
Council’s attention that the public had to be given an opportunity to speak.
“One-by-one, fire fighters and family members were able to explain the actual impact of the contract provisions,” says Fuller. “Their points convinced the Council that the labor-management agreement was not a good one and gave Local 2952 fire fighters and City negotiators 90 more days to reach a proper agreement.”
“The Council’s decision is a great victory for us,” says Davis. “We appreciate all of the assistance and guidance we have received from District Vice President Woolbright, DFSR Fuller, the Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters and others.”