New Volley In Firefighter Clash

With a budget battle in play and the jobs of 19 Omaha firefighters on the line, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert offered a new agreement to the Fire Union Tuesday night as a way to dodge January layoffs.

The Memorandum of Agreement, described as "the city's best effort to avoid the layoffs" sets a November 8 deadline for a deal. If the executed agreement is not submitted by noon on Friday, the mayor's office says the offer comes off the table and the layoffs of probationary firefighters will proceed.

The city's proposal states that in exchange for a reduction in the number of paramedics to be trained, the union will be given assurances that layoffs will not take place in 2014. That protection would extend to 2015 if the Fire Department is within a 1/2 percent of its 2014 budget.

The Memorandum of Agreement includes the following language:

  • The paramedic training class scheduled to begin in December 2013 will begin in January 2014 with the size of the class being reduced from 24 to 12. The paramedic training class of 24 which is scheduled to begin in June 2014 will be eliminated. The 2015 paramedic training class scheduled to begin in December 2014 will be reduced to a class of 12 students or a number mutually agreed upon by Fire Management and Union.
  • The city agrees that Omaha Fire Department positions filled as of November 1, 2013 will not be subject to layoffs in 2014. If the fire department is within one-half percent of its 2014 budget (approved at $90.6 million by the Omaha City Council 8/27/13) those positions will also be protected from layoffs in 2015.
  • Rigs in services as of September 23, 2013, with the exception of Medic 3 (located at 3216 S. 16 St.) will remain in service in 2014. If the fire department is within one-half percent of its 2014 budget (approved at $90.6 million by the Omaha City Council on 8/27/13) those rigs will remain in service in 2015. A decision about Medic 3 will be made by the City and Fire Management

The news release from the mayor's office also states the following: In a letter to Union President Steve LeClair, the City's Labor Negotiator, Mark McQueen points out that the union's 7-point "Letter of Agreement" counter offer, provided to the City on Monday evening is not acceptable. "The union's offer would put unnecessary restrictions on our ability to manage and staff the Omaha Fire Department," said Mayor Stothert. "It's unreasonable to ask the City to give up its management rights indefinitely. I hope Local 385 agrees to the Memo of Agreement to prevent the layoff of 19 firefighters."

On Monday, the 19 firefighters with the least seniority began receiving layoff notices.

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