At Tuesday’s Hannibal City Council meeting, Fire Chief Bill Madore and a representative of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1211 announced a new contract for Hannibal’s firefighters. The three-year collective bargaining agreement includes a number of changes that Madore and Barry Louderman, former chairman of the now-defunct Fire Board, said were designed to clarify the authority at the top of the Fire Department, in addition to addressing what Louderman called “economic items.”
Here’s a rundown of the bigger changes, in the order in which they appear in the contract:
• Fire Department facilities may be used for union business, but political activity is prohibited in fire stations, and city equipment may not be used for political activity.
• The grievance process has been refined and the city manager added to the process. The new contract also provides for a grievance committee that may review grievances before they are sent up the chain of command.
• Funeral leave is allowed for direct relatives of spouses and fiancees.
• New firefighters will see a decreased city contribution to health and dental insurance (50%) and will receive fewer years of post-retirement health insurance (three years). Current firefighters will be grandfathered in with a 65% city contribution to insurance and five years of post-retirement health insurance.
• Firefighters will receive a decreased benefit for working out-of-rank — one hour off for every 12 hours worked out of rank. Madore noted in a memo to the City Council that this will save the city $19,000 a year.
• The new contract clarifies management rights and asserts that the fire chief reserves the right to deploy personnel as necessary.
• The heat and cold index remains for non-emergency functions, but the reasoning behind that is clearly explained.
• Light duty is established.
• If a future agreement cannot be reached, a mediator will be employed. Under previous contracts, nothing has existed to break deadlocks.
Louderman noted that “economic issues,” including insurance and wage scales, will be discussed on an annual basis instead of during triennial contract negotiations. However, the full contract is effective for three years.
Contract negotiations began in February and were endorsed by the Fire Board June 28, in one of its final acts. The negotiations included the Fire Board, City Manager Jeff LaGarce, Madore, Deputy Fire Chief Mike Benjamin, City Clerk Angel Vance and various members of IAFF Local 1211.
“Negotiations were spirited at times, but were always in good faith,” Madore said at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The contract was approved unanimously without debate, apart from a question about the frequency of the fiscal discussions versus the overall contract negotiations.