City-Fire Union Stalemate Headed To Court

By: Associated Press/WOWT Email
By: Associated Press/WOWT Email

Despite a claim from Mayor Jim Suttle in August of 2009 that he had an agreement with the Fire Union, a new contract has never been approved.

Firefighters have been working without a contract since December 2007. In the interim the Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations has made modifications to the previous contract while the two sides work on a new one.

But the city and the Fire Union disagree on how those changes are interpreted.

The city is appealing a court order in line with a CIR decision that
the city must have 657 fire personnel on staff. Beyond that, the union says in its appeal that Omaha is violating a requirement for 150 captains.

The high court will hear arguments April 7 when it convenes at the Creighton Law School.

The contract was among several issues in the failed bid to recall Mayor Jim Suttle.

In general, critics have said that several Omaha Mayors and several City Councils have allowed the Fire Union contract to dictate so much detail in how the department is organized and how it is run, that the city has all but abdicated any ability to manage the department.

As the city has faced tighter and tighter budgets in recent years the ability to actively manage the department, its personnel and its equipment has taken on greater urgency.

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