By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Riverview Fire Department has served as a gateway to other fire departments over the years as part-time fire fighters sought full-time employment. MAFF is working to make Riverview a place where fire fighters plan to continue their careers.

“(Part-time) worked good for a long time when there was an excess of firemen,” said Riverview Fire Department Sgt. Dan Garnick. “We were a feeding ground to the rest of the departments. It was a good steppingstone job here. Now that you can’t get firemen, that steppingstone position is hard to find workers for.”

MAFF began representing Riverview Fire Fighters May 1, 2020 after the 20-member part-time unit voted to change unions. They had heard about MAFF’s success stories bargaining for full-time fire fighters.

“I’ve been here 20 years. We’ve always had AFSCME,” Garnick said. “We’re trying to transition into a combination department of part-timers and full-timers.”

“We’ve got a few other members here that work in other (MAFF-represented) departments that have been happy with MAFF,” said Garnick, the local Union President. “I know they’ve helped a couple other departments transition into a full-time or combo department.”

With MAFF’s assistance, Riverview Fire Fighters are negotiating a new contract which includes wages and benefits for full-time fire fighters as well as part-timers. Their existing contract expires June 30, 2020.

Currently, Riverview Fire Fighters do not have benefits such as health insurance and paid time off. “All of our part-timers here have (other) full-time jobs,” Garnick said. “We’re doing it almost as a side gig.”

“Due to the lack of being able to get part-timers, (Riverview City Council) decided it’s time to transition. City Council granted permission to hire eight full-timers and supplement with part-time,” Garnick said. “We have to finalize pay and benefits in negotiations. Once that’s finalized, we’ll hire eight people.”