73°F
Sponsored by

Cumberland Firefighter Union Files Suit Against City

"We received a letter from the city, that our contract is invalid, and they're going to treat us as non-union employees," said President of IAFF Local 1715, Ken McKenzie.
CUMBERLAND, Md. - In Cumberland, firefighters are at odds with city officials over their contracts. All of the city firefighters are part of a union called IAFF, or the International Association of Fire Fighters. They've had contracts with the city, until now.

"We received a letter from the city, that our contract is invalid, and they're going to treat us as non-union employees," said President of IAFF Local 1715, Ken McKenzie.

So, firefighters have filed suit.

McKenzie thinks back to 2010, when he says the fire department took measures to save the city money. He says they cut top-end positions, took furlough days and are now down to just a dozen firefighters. They were looking to renegotiate, but that all stalled over a new health coverage plan proposed by the city.

"Insurance is specified, who it is, provided by...so we have to agree with it. Well our negotiations went to the back burner with the city on the rest of the contract. And it's just sitting there because of the insurance issue," said McKenzie.

Cumberland City Administrator, Jeffrey Rhodes said the issue with the IAFF is a “moving target” at this point.

“They're stuck on getting something in exchange for helping the city save money. We offered a $750 stipend to accept a better health care coverage,” Rhodes said. “The city from the very beginning wanted to make this about the quality of the health care.”

He continued on to say that the issue involving adding an extra staff member to the fire department is new. Rhodes said the IAFF is trying to negotiate more for the firefighters in addition to health care, like a thirteenth member and the stipend.

Rhodes said the town is open to negotiating a new contract with the local IAFF, but they will not renegotiate on the last contract.

"If the city's allowed to just say, 'we're not going to follow your contract' and that's legal, every other union in the city, and in the county, and in the state is going to be in the same boat. To where they decided one day, well ‘Mr. Policeman, we don't have a contract with you either,’" McKenzie said.

Rhodes said, he and the city have “tremendous respect for the work these ladies and gentlemen are doing.” He said, “the problem is with the IAFF, not with local” emergency workers.

McKenzie said they're just looking to sit down and talk through the issues with the city. But all communication has just been between legal counselors.

Both the firefighters in Cumberland and the city officials agree, the service of the fire department will not be affected by the lawsuit.
Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus

More Headlines