Fire/Rescue Contract Negotiations – Back to the BCC

TAB members have been attending these, mostly once/monthly, negotiations since mid-June.   It was clear that little or no progress had been made in six months, and we of  TAB wondered how many more billable hours  would be spent for attorneys from both sides, sans resolution to anything.

Well – apparently, the County management team’s patience has been exhausted.  The County expected the Union to appear with a wage proposal, or at least an analysis of the County’s 22% across the board cut for new employees.  The Union said ‘No – the person who was doing the analysis had surgery and so we don’t have a response for you”.  County asked “Any movement on any of the proposals made by the County’?  “No” to that as well.  In fact, the Union said that it was very difficult to respond to 45 changes that the County wanted to make to the contract and although there has been probably some resolutions to 5-10 of these 45, that there are still 35 issues to work out.  The County attorney said he wasn’t going to get into exactly how many issues there were or remain.

County then went through 2 minor (one to two word changes) in articles 20 and 28.  County called them clarifications.  Union said these were changes, not clarifications.

Robert Norton (attorney for the county) then probed if there could be any meetings in January.  Matthew Mierzwa (union attorney) gave reasons why he was unavailable.  Mr. Norton said that “It’s clear that no progress is going to be made today”  and went on to say that he doesn’t recall any time in his career, making so little progress on a contract, and if there was a time, he doesn’t remember it.  While he wasn’t quite ready to call an “impasse”, he said that it was time to go back to the elected officials (Board of County Commissioners), to get guidance from them.  Depending on their decision, he’ll either work to get new bargaining dates or do whatever the next step is.

As a citizen and tax payer, watching twelve men waste their own (and our) time for six months, to achieve nothing, highlights why trust in government is at an all time low.

Note: the current contract expired in September.