Wade Ritchie, president of the firefighters union local will remain employed by the Brandon Fire and Emergency Services as a firefighter-paramedic. (FILE PHOTO)
The labour war between the Brandon Professional Firefighters/Paramedics Association and the City of Brandon appears to be over with a settlement of "all outstanding matters before the Manitoba Labour Board," a city-issued press release said.
The release, which is reportedly a joint statement of the Brandon Professional Firefighters/Paramedics Association and the City of Brandon, said a "comprehensive settlement" was reached. City communications director Allison Collins said the deal had been reached within the last several days.
"The only statement I can provide is the City of Brandon is happy with the settlement and we feel it’s a win-win for all who is involved," Collins said. "This relates to the matter currently being heard by the Manitoba Labour Board and all other associated arbitrations."
That means Wade Ritchie, the president of the firefighters union local who was first suspended after an allegation of deceitful conduct then fired for allegedly intimidating another firefighter, will remain employed by the Brandon Fire and Emergency Services as a firefighter-paramedic.
He had been reinstated by the Manitoba Labour Board in a ruling on March 14 to the rank of firefighter-paramedic. Ritchie not only got his job back, but has been reinstated at the rank of lieutenant, the rank he held prior to his suspensions.
Two other Brandon Professional Firefighters/Paramedics Association executives, Marc Lefebvre and Scott Hemstad, who were fighting their own suspensions and related labour issues, also resolved their matters through this settlement.
All parties have now agreed to the terms of the settlement and the deal will be signed today.
The press release also stated: "Officials from both sides have acknowledged to each other that actions were taken by each that were not appropriate and which resulted in the ongoing conflict."
Specific settlement details were scarce as both sides carefully chose their words when speaking about the deal, in part because personnel matters are involved.
"I can say that we are very happy with the settlement that has been reached and from how I see it, it validates everything the Brandon firefighters have went through, all of their actions," said Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg. "We are very glad this nightmare is over."
Forrest said that the fire union had won "almost every legal battle we had" on the series of arbitrations, unfair labour practice hearings and grievances, and said "it’s a big victory for us."
Ritchie said he was pleased that all parties can call the settlement a victory, and allows all to move forward in a positive manner.
The deal came as an arbitration hearing was set to resume on Monday on an unfair labour practice arbitration dealing with an Ritchie’s October 2011 suspension from an allegation of deceitful conduct. There, the issue centred around contract negotiations and an email Ritchie sent to city manager Scott Hildebrand.
Brandon Fire and Emergency Services Chief Brent Dane was set to take the stand on Monday and was expected to be in the witness chair for two days.
By entering into a settlement agreement, both sides pledged to strive for "good and respectful relations with each other in their respective roles and believe that this resolution will make such a relationship possible."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 15, 2012