Kettering city officials and its fire department union have settled on a new tentative three-year contact for the fire captains unit following months of negotiations and after the city rejected recommendations for contract terms made by an outside party.
City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to accept the findings of an outside party regarding collective bargaining issues with the Kettering Professional firefighters IAFF Local 2150 - Fire Captains.
The efforts to settle on a new contact began last November and included an agreement between both sides that was voted down by the union membership.
City Manager Mark Schwieterman said that the city and the IAFF Local 2150 have engaged in collective bargaining negotiations regarding the captains unit starting in November 2017, and mediation sessions were held in January and February of this year.
“We recently completed negotiations on a tentative agreement,” he said. “The tentative agreement has been passed by the bargaining unit.”
The agreement with the IAFF calls for a 2.5 wage increase on a three-year agreement for 2018, 2019 and 2020.
A tentative agreement had been reached on all issues, including wages, overtime, drug testing and reprimands processes but the union membership rejected the agreement, so the parties sought recommendations from an outside fact-finder, according to Thomas Nowel, who was selected to go over the issues by the State Employment Relations Board.
Nowel said in his fact-finding report that there are “14 captains in the bargaining unit. Prior to 2014, captains were not unionized. The recently expired collective bargaining agreement was the first between the union, representing fire captains, and the City of Kettering.”
Attorney Stephen S. Lazarus, who is representing the union, said the newly-signed tentative agreement makes things one step closer to being a done deal, with all of the pressing issues resolved.
“There has been a tentative agreement signed and it will become official assuming that both parties ratify it,” he said.
Lazarus said the fact-finder sided with the city on proposals for insurance and drug testing.
“He sided with us when the city wanted to make changes in overtime and it was a split-decision on wages. I think it was a well-balanced report,” Lazarus said.
Wages and overtime have been notable issues in the negotiations. The union proposed three across-the-board wage increases which included: 3 percent effective (retroactive) Jan. 1, 2018, 3 percent effective Dec. 30, 2018 and and 3 percent effective December 29, 2019.
The city countered with proposals of three 2 percent across-the-board wage increases, and the proposed contract ended up at the 2.5 increase.