Contract Settlements

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Stockbridge Paid-on-Call (POC) Fire Fighters were tired of being ignored by their Employer when they asked for paid training, safety improvements and fair working conditions, so they unionized, joining Michigan Association of Fire Fighters (MAFF) in September.

Safety is among the top concerns for the fire fighters, some of whom are lacking the proper certified gear and equipment to do their jobs. The condition of the fire department is also a safety issue. The 16-member unit, which is part of the Stockbridge Area Emergency Services Authority (S.A.E.S.A.), has already seen some movement by their Employer.

“We’ve got black mold growing in the fire station that they haven’t done anything about,” said a POC S.A.E.S.A. fire fighter, who preferred to remain anonymous. “I walked around eight months with holes in my uniform. One guy didn’t have gloves for four months. Safety is a big thing and the equal treatment.”

“I just got my bunker pants back from being fixed when they found out a Union was starting,” the S.A.E.S.A. fire fighter said. “They had to have that patched in order to be NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) compliant. They didn’t want the Union to come in, that’s the reason they fixed them.”

CONTRACT

Now when an Employee responds to a tone out, they will receive a $4 per hour increase in pay during that period, “to encourage a greater response by the Paid-on-Call Firefighters,” said MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Joe O'Connor. “In order to fill shifts, they decided to let Paid-on-Call and Auxiliary work beyond the 1,560 hours. Once they go beyond that, they’re considered a full time equivalent and the Employer has to offer them healthcare. If there are open shifts, they’re allowing them to work it regardless of the number of hours they’ve got on the books. The Employer used to require a POC to reside in the city, they now need to live within 5 miles of the city limits. The hiring pool is only so big when you’re in the city limits. They want bodies to respond - that’s why it was expanded to the 5 mile radius." While new hire part-timers have minimum 10 shifts per quarter requirements, O’Connor said, “If they don’t have flexibility to work shifts, you can’t require them to take vacation time or personal time to fulfill that obligation with Novi. These guys all have full time jobs … Paid-on-Call means they’ll respond when they can and the Employer was trying to make it mandatory. You can’t do that. The compromise is anybody hired after (July 1, 2017), if you can’t do it we are not going to hire you.”

Contract Duration: 3-year agreement, ratified July 23, 2017, and effective 7-1-17 to 6-30-20.
Wage Increases:
•    2.5% wage increase upon contract ratification.
•    2.5% effective July 1, 2018.
•    2.5% effective July 1, 2019.
*New hire bonuses, which were eliminated in the prior contract, were reinstated. New hires will receive a $300 Certification Stipend for obtaining Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2 and EMT certifications and serving 12 month probationary period.

Fringe Benefits:
•    Each Employee will receive $100,000 in accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
•    POC or Auxiliary Firefighters responding to a scene, on standby or working a shift on a declared Holiday will be paid double time of their regular hourly pay.
•    Tuition reimbursement of $1,000 per year will be available, however if the Employee leaves the City within two years of tuition being reimbursed by the City, that Employee must reimburse some or all of the tuition. If the Employee leaves within one year of reimbursement, they must refund 100%. If they depart between 13 months and 23 months, they must repay a prorated amount based on 1/12th of the cost.

Tone-Outs: When an Employee responds to a tone out, they will receive an additional $4 per hour for hours worked during that tone out.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Port Huron Township Fire Fighters were starting to wonder why they were paying a union dues to represent them when they had to write their own contract and pay additional fees for grievance representation. Previously represented by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) for well over a decade, the full-time staff voted in March to join MAFF.

“From what they indicated to me they didn’t feel properly represented and they did not get a lot of support from their prior group,” said MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Jerald James. “They wrote their own contract and negotiated their own contract. They were essentially on their own for all intents and purposes.”

“I’ve never heard of (a situation like) that before,” James said. “Maybe because it’s such a small group, that’s the only thing I can surmise as to why they didn’t get more representation.”

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

With possibly the lowest pay in the state and negative changes in staffing anticipated, Clay Township Fire Fighters decided it was time to be represented by a union. Their concerns, ranging from wages and overtime to scheduling of shifts, caused the group to vote in January to join MAFF.

“There’s a multitude of issues they were having that prompted them to say they needed union representation,” said Jerald James, MAFF Labor Relations Specialist. “They were not organized before. This is their first union.”

“We went with MAFF because they also represent part-time employees and the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) doesn’t do that because they don’t really want any part-time Fire Fighters, they want only full time,” said Mike Olderman, local union representative. “We just have been treated horrible by the township and they would not negotiate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a paramedic with 20 years experience or a basic Fire Fighter, you get paid the same hourly rate. It’s just so unfair. We’re hoping to negotiate a fair contract.”

The primarily paid-on-call (POC) department has seven full-time Fire Fighters, which have been paid for through a Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant. However, that grant is expected to run out in October. “We’re kind of wrangling over that right now,” James said regarding contract negotiations. “According to the Employer, it doesn’t sound like they’ll be able to financially sustain the full-timers. They’ve already had their (grant) extensions. They won’t be able to get another SAFER Grant. They just indicated those 7 full-time positions in October will probably be vacated. I’m assuming they’ll transfer into paid-on-call as they are hiring more paid-on-call.”

CONTRACT

“They’ll receive a total of 9 percent raise over 3 years ... for both full-time and paid-on-call. The last contract was the first we negotiated. They were so underpaid that they got monster raises,” said Jerald James, MAFF Labor Relations Specialist. “Three percent is significant for a wage increase. It kind of stabilized them for what we got particularly for how far behind they were from their peers. The Employer spent several thousand dollars on brand new fitness equipment for the group. The Employer opted to purchase the equipment through a grant and created a weight room in the fire house. Paid-on-call will get five additional points over and above the general public on the (hiring) tests (for full-time employment).”

“The group is happy with the wage increase, and we recognize that we still have some work to do. We look to build on the 9 percent and bring the gap between ranks closer together,” said Scott Basar, local union President. “We felt that buying the weight equipment was a cost savings to the department that could help us in future. Once the equipment is paid off, it’s here as opposed to $20 or 30 a month per guy for the gym. It’s about $2,000 a year (in gym costs). Having the equipment in the station is more beneficial for us than attending the gym. It’s time saving ... We’re here with the equipment, we’re here with trucks. (Paid-on-call) get automatic five points (on hiring tests) and you also get points based on (public safety) college degrees. Every little bit helps. The last hiring process the guys beat each other by one and two points. Prior to that, there was a guy who missed all together by a half point.”

Contract Duration: 3-year agreement ratified Feb. 14, 2017 effective 1-1-17 to 12-31-19.

Wage Increases:
3% increase effective Jan. 1, 2016.
3% increase effective Jan. 1, 2017.
3% increase effective Jan. 1, 2018.