Brandon firefighters and paramedics will see a significant boost in their paycheques — but not as much as they were hoping for.
The arbitration ruling was delivered Wednesday, following a lengthy contract dispute dating back to 2011.
The 71 members of the Brandon Professional Firefighters/Paramedics Association will see an 11.5 per cent salary increase over three years — four per cent for 2012, 4.5 per cent for 2013 and three per cent for 2014.
Newly elected union president Terry Browett said it is a relief to finally see the process come to an end.
"It’s just time to move on," he said.
The union was asking for a 21 per cent wage increase over four years — nine per cent, six per cent, three per cent and three per cent. The city was offering six per cent over three years, at two per cent each year.
"(The arbitrators) make the ultimate call, there’s pros and cons to both," Browett said. "I think it’s a fair decision and we just take what the arbitrator says."
The union was hoping for a four-year contract, as it would have given them more time to prepare for the next negotiation.
"But I’m confident we can work with the city and prevent another arbitration process," Browett said. "Nobody wins when it gets to this point."
Lawyers representing the city and the union each submitted their case to the arbitration board during a three-day hearing in April to arbitrator Michael Werier, along with the city’s nominee, Rob Simpson, and the union’s nominee, Alex Forrest.
The award is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012 and expires on Dec. 31, 2014.
City manager Scott Hildebrand said he is pleased to see the process come to a close, and is looking forward to building up the city’s relationship with the new union executive.
"We’ve … started talking about how we forge forward with a new relationship, a more positive relationship, and I’m seeing good signs," Hildebrand said. "That’s what I’m hoping for in the future … My intention is that we will never get into that situation again, but I can’t predict that."
Browett said to avoid another arbitration process, he hopes the union and the city can "bargain in good faith" and "work hard to reach some common ground in the future."
During the arbitration hearing, the union requested double-time for all overtime and a tripling of the current retirement benefit.
Both of these requests were denied by the arbitration board.
"I didn’t think those were appropriate, and I’m glad that the arbitrators’ decision focused on salary and nothing but salary," Hildebrand said.
Meanwhile, the city was requesting the addition of part-time/casual classification within the union and a reworking of the promotion clause. These requests also were denied.
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