Seminole City Council approves three-year contract with firefighters

The Seminole City Council unanimously approved a collective bargaining agreement between the city of Seminole and the Seminole Professional Firefighters Local 2896 for fiscal years 2020-2022 at its Oct. 8 meeting.

SEMINOLE — The Seminole City Council unanimously approved a collective bargaining agreement between the city of Seminole and the Seminole Professional Firefighters Local 2896 for fiscal years 2020-2022 at its Oct. 8 meeting.

During last year’s collective bargaining, Local 2896 declared an impasse May 30, 2018, bringing negotiations to a standstill. Earlier this year, a special magistrate released two decisions siding with the firefighters on all areas of contention, but the city’s negotiating team rejected his decisions.

The council acted as a third party at a July 15 impasse hearing, making final decisions on the contract for this past fiscal year. Among the temporary decisions they made, councilors approved a 5% increase on base wages effective that evening and capped the firefighters’ pension contribution at 12.5% of their pay, down from 15%. Councilors passed a temporary one-year collective bargaining agreement for fiscal year 2018-2019 at their Sept. 11 meeting. That agreement expired Sept. 30.

The new three-year contract “includes the items that were tentatively agreed upon by both the city’s and the union’s negotiating teams,” according to the Oct. 8 council agenda packet.

The most significant changes include the reinstatement of Article 2 regarding management rights and the addition of the language “just cause” to Article 21 regarding grievance procedure.

There were also significant updates to Article 14 regarding wages. The contract introduces new pay ranges that are higher than the existing pay ranges for all four positions — firefighter EMTs, fire medics, lieutenant EMTs and lieutenant medics.

Annual merit increases, based on receiving satisfactory annual appraisals on the employee’s anniversary date, will be awarded each year. These merit increases will amount to 2% in fiscal year 2019-2020, and 4% in fiscal years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.

“I’m just happy to see us get to this point. They work hard for us,” said Councilor Bob Matthews.