City, firefighters sign new deal

Vernon has inked a contract with the International Association of Firefighters for 2013 to 2015.

The City of Vernon and its unionized firefighters are trying to find middle ground.

Council has inked a contract with the International Association of Firefighters for 2013 to 2015. Both sides have not had a deal since 2012.

“It’s a new collective agreement and we’re happy with the terms,” said Brent Bond, IAFF local 1517 president.

The pact includes a 2.5 per cent salary increase for each year, effective Jan. 1, 2013.

Will Pearce, the city’s chief administrative officer. is pleased with the process.

“It clears the deck and gets everyone paid for what they earned,” he said.

“We can then sit down and talk about where we go for 2016, 2017 and 2018. It’s a practical way to do business.”

A challenge has been that a 2.5 per cent compensation increase is standard across B.C., with most fire departments having wage parity with their Vancouver counterparts.

“A number of Lower Mainland contracts are for seven years or longer and the cumulative impact of 2.5 per cent is significant,” said Pearce.

Complicating matters further is that council’s strategic plan calls for  the city’s overall operating budget to fall within each year’s consumer price index (it is presently 0.9 per cent).

“You could have a big gap between anticipated budgets and true costs,” said Pearce.

Between 2013 and 2015, the city has banked funds in anticipation of a contract agreement.

“We are current with our financial obligations to our firefighters.”

Bond is looking forward to the union entering into the next round of negotiations with the city.

“They can get prepared for the next few years,” he said.

 

Vernon Morning Star

Pop-up banner image