The Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District Board of Fire Commissioners' approval of the Collective Bargaining Agreement with IAFF Local 1826 District 3 Union will have to wait. The union rejected the ratification of the newly imposed CBA contract over the weekend of June 15-17.
The document was sent to District's labor trade then to Union District 3 officials for a vote, which was declined by a 35-5 margin, according to union representative Troy Mesick at the most recent fire board meeting June 19.
"We had voting Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There were 40 possible votes and all 40 personnel voted. The contract was turned down 35 to 5, so it was not ratified on our side," he said.
Without ratification, decisive action from the legislative hearing on May 1 will be taken, says FMB Fire Board Attorney Richard Pringle. The primary articles proposed at impasse involved paid personal leave; holidays; insurance; work schedules/hours of duty and overtime; and the pay matrix.
"That is the contract until bargaining occurs to discuss and negotiate additional contract terms," said Pringle. "Despite the fact that it will be difficult to implement, that is what we need to do. The law is clear that the effective date of the change is the date of the legislative hearing."
Due to the Union's rejection of the ratification, personnel payment in the pay matrix' 28-day pay cycle might need some tweaking.
"We may have to make an adjustment to the bi-weekly cycle to accommodate the 28-day work period by pushing the bi-weekly pay cycle back one week. Today (June 19) is the first effective day of the pay matrix," said Beach Fire Financial Director Jane Thompson. "Everything else we can recalculate and adjust with the exception of the bi-weekly pay. That will be pushed back by one week."
Fire Board Chairman David Brower stated the 28-day pay cycle would significantly impact fire personnel's overtime pay. He is concerned about notifying fire employees of the change.
"There is going to be some recapturing involved," he said. "Employees should have notice when the money will be recaptured."
Commissioner John Scanlon asked for a recapturing of money in small lumps over a longer period of time. Financial numbers and CBA contract issues will be discussed during the Board's July 3 special meeting at 10 a.m.
During the June 19 meeting, Acting Chief Darren White discussed personnel staffing and stated that the District needs to fill two vacant fire fighter positions as part of the Prevention Bureau's strategic plan.
"It is my recommendation that the Prevention Bureau staffing be brought up to its previous level of three personnel by training three new positions called fire prevention specialists," he said. "This eliminates the need to use certified fire fighters that are better suited for fire fighting duties."
White said that the District's total staffing stands at 41 employees after two recent retirees. He would like to see it pushed to 50 with 16 fire fighters staffed at all times.
"All positions, including the ones that I requested, are in the budget and have always been in the budget," he said. "I personally believe that we have a responsibility to the citizens of the district to provide adequate fire protection for single-family homes at a minimum."
Of the three fire commissioners present at the meeting, two of them were in favor of hiring three line positions at this time. Scanlon, who made the motion, and Brower approved the action, while Commissioner Ted Schindler dissented.
Mesick was not too happy about the hiring since fire fighters took a heavy pay cut with the CBA.
"We were told never shown any documents that showed we were budgeted for nine positions," he said. "I feel like we've been hoodwinked."