There has been no movement in the contract negotiations between the City of Brandon and the firefighter/E911 dispatcher union since last fall, according to the city’s deputy director of human resources.
Linda Poole said it will be months before they go into arbitration.
"It’s going to arbitration but there’s no dates set," Poole said. "We don’t even have a chair appointed. These things move very, very slowly … This one in particular, as expected, is moving very slowly."
Firefighter/paramedics and E911 contracts ended in December 2011. After lengthy negotiations between the city and the Brandon Professional Firefighters/Paramedics Association, a new agreement could not be reached. The terms of the previous contract carry on until a new agreement is reached.
"The union has decided that they were going to use the legislation and go to arbitration," city manager Scott Hildebrand said. "So our discussions, our negotiations have ceased … We didn’t feel we could make any more ground because we were too far apart."
Last fall, the city made the financial terms of its proposal to the union public, stating it offered its employees a two per cent raise in 2012 and another two per cent in 2013.
The city said the union was asking for a 17 per cent raise over two years, plus a 30 per cent increase in benefits for firefighter/paramedics, while requesting a 34 per cent increase in pay for dispatchers as well as a "similar increase in benefits."
Wade Ritchie, president of the Brandon Professional Firefighters/Paramedics Association, was outraged by the release of specific details.
"Our association does not believe in negotiating through the media," he said.
Ritchie said after several meetings on both contracts, they were able to get through a lot of non-monetary issues.
"We’re stuck on the monetary side of things," he said. "We’ve left the city with the fact that we are prepared to come back to the table at any time, so it’s not that we’re not prepared to sit at the table. We believe that this could be dealt with without going to arbitration."
The union made the request to Manitoba Labour Minister Jennifer Howard for an arbitration panel and hearing dates last October.
Ritchie said each party has appointed a nominee to sit on the three-person panel.
"The two nominees get together and decide on a … chairperson," Ritchie said. "And once the whole board is chosen, that’s when the names get released."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 8, 2013