A prolonged negotiation has now caused the Tallahassee firefighters and the City to enter a special magistrate process to address outstanding issues beginning in February.
After 113 days 2 hours and 38 minutes without a contract (updated Tuesday, January 21 at 6:37), IAFF local 2339 members are concerned about the status of their future wages and employment.
“We’re still hopeful that the City will reconsider our offer or work something out with us without having to go through the special magistrate process,” said the Tallahassee firefighter union president Joey Davis. “It would be better for us and the City if we could come to an agreement and move forward together.”
The negotiation started in February of 2020 and in September, the City ratified an agreement that was meant to be in effect starting October 1 but Tallahassee firefighters still had some concerns with the revision.
A statement from the City of Tallahassee reads “after 13 successful bargaining sessions with the IAFF bargaining team, the City and firefighters reached a three-year agreement on all 39 contract articles including wages, pension benefits and health and safety measures. The City ratified the agreement, but the firefighters did not ratify their own agreement forcing the parties into an impasse. There is not a contract at this time because the union did not ratify the agreement.”
Davis stated that with every ratification, there must be a vote containing everyone in the unit and that vote was turned down due to a concern on whether or not the City was offering more to another Bargaining unit.
“We’ve had issues in the past where we were asked to give a lot of concession on our pension contribution and were told everyone was going to have to do that,” said Davis. “It turned out no one else had to do that.”
In the contract summary that the City provided, it states that “The City and Union agreed to the proposed pension contribution reduction of an average of 3%. Pension contribution rates for firefighters hired prior to 10/1/2017 are based on an age 52 retirement as compared to age 65 for general unit employees and age 55 for police officers. Firefighters employed on or after 10/1/17 as agreed to by the parties may retire at age 62.”
According to the union’s website, Tallahassee firefighters’ take-home pay is averaged at 14% less than other first responders in the area and they contribute the highest mandatory retirement contribution at 20% when compared to other Florida fire and police departments.
“It’s unfortunate because we have a lot less people that are looking to come to the Tallahassee Fire Department to work and we have a lot of our first, second and third-year firefighters become discouraged and look elsewhere due to the take-home pay,” said Davis.