Ruling means City of Corner Brook will have to pay firefighters for lost OT

Diane
Diane Crocker
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An arbitration ruling in favour of Local 1222 of the International Association of Fire Fighters could have a big implication for the City of Corner Brook.

The decision means the city will pay full-time firefighters for overtime lost when it used relief firefighters to cover vacations.

Neither the firefighters nor the city are saying just how much money could be involved.

Local 1222 president Geoff Sparkes said the arbitration ruling on some 120 grievances filed since April 2013 was handed down on July 21. He said every time the city violated the article on vacations in the firefighters contract prohibiting the use of relief members to cover for full-time firefighters a grievance was filed.

Sparkes said the Corner Brook Fire Department has a small pool of relief, or part-time, firefighters that the union agreed could be used to offset the cost of sick time and bereavement leave, but never vacation leave.

He said the original intent of the agreement was to supplement the staff, not to replace them.

During contract negotiations in 2012, the city proposed changing things to be able to use relief firefighters to cover vacation time. The proposal was eventually dropped.

“They knew, well I’m assuming, that it was a contentious issue,” said Sparkes.

Up to April 2013 the city followed the agreement as it always had, but Sparkes said then it stopped being followed.

“We grieved it because it violated, as we felt, the collective agreement.”

The grievances continued right up until the ruling nearly three weeks ago.

Going to arbitration on the grievances was something the city requested.

Under the collective agreement, both the city and the local got to appoint one member to participate along with an arbitrator from the Labour Relations Agency. This grievance was heard by John Clarke.

Clarke’s decision in the union’s favour was accepted with a 2-1 majority vote among the three participants, with the city’s appointee voting against it.

Neither side in the grievance would provide The Western Star with a copy of the decision.

“It’s hard to say right now what it will cost,” said Sparkes when asked just how much the decision will cost, but added the city has already paid the relief firefighters and will now have to pay the affected full-time members time-and-a-half.

The city would not comment on the ruling. In an email, acting chief administrative officer Dale Park said the city does not typically comment on human resource matters.

Park said the city has received the arbitrator’s decision and is seeking clarification on a number of areas relating to the ruling. He added the city has already begun to implement the aspects of the decision in which it feels the ruling is clear. 

Organizations: International Association of Fire Fighters, Corner Brook Fire Department, Labour Relations Agency

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Corner Brook.The, Western Star Dale Park

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  • Steve
    August 11, 2014 - 21:41

    It is laughable that there are employees who can do the work at regular pay but the collective agreement allow this to happen. How was this ever approved? I get that the fire fighters have the right to overtime based on the last set of negotiations but I hope that they don't expect people to support them the next time budget cuts come. The fire fighters will have nobody to blame but themselves.

  • wow and wow
    August 11, 2014 - 09:24

    Because it's in the contract doesnt make it right. The City FF's should be ashmed of themselves ...gouging the taxpayers money AND taking away work from relief FF's....most of them are young. Get this out of your contract and stop being soo greedy

  • Wow
    August 11, 2014 - 08:10

    Tom did you even read the article the city managers are in clear violation of breaking a legal contract after what they done in the last negotiations I would be questioning the senior management for there decision making! That my friend is what is costing the city tax payers not the fire fighters they are only getting back what is legally owed to them from management mistakes so read the article and get info before commenting on something you have no idea about my hats off to the firefighters for standing up for them selves and winning battle against senior management for a clear violation of a collective agreement

  • tom
    August 10, 2014 - 07:26

    Thanks city firefighters for digging deeper into the pockets of the citizens of corner brook. And to think of the support we gave you only a couple of years ago

    • joe
      August 11, 2014 - 08:12

      city firefighters to blame?! shouldn't we be talking about the ones who committed the violation of their collective agreement?? seems like senior management of CB are to blame. firefighters are only following their contract obligations. apparently the independent arbitrator (john Clarke) agrees with them

  • bob
    August 09, 2014 - 21:48

    Amazing. I'm betting this could cost the taxpayers 10s of thousands of dollars if not more. Who will answer for this huge mistake?? My guess.....no one will care!!!!

  • My opinion
    August 09, 2014 - 08:20

    The new city hall. Open dialogue. WOW!!! Dale Park states we do not talk about human resources issues. Wow!! The City tax payers are not permitted to know some facts on why the City staff took such a ludicrous decision during a time when Mr. Greely was Mayor and the public already knows how the mayor treated the fire fighters back then during contract negotiations. Mayor Pender stop treating us like we are children. We do not need names but we would like to know the circumstances as to why this decision was made after all its our tax dollars being spent foolishly down there. I also want to know how much the City will have to pay back to staff because of this arbitration. I also believe the reporter should dig further for this information if it is not forth coming from the City. Is their a continuing story here because of a possible cover up to protect certain persons at city hall. May be more heads should roll down there.