Youngstown Metropolis Council reject fact-finding

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Legal Director Jeff Limbian said the city had several issues with the contract, but one of the main issues was the proposed pandemic bonus.

YOUNGSTOWN – City council members voted Tuesday to reject a fact-finder recommendation for a new three-year contract with the International Association of Fire Firefighters Local 312.

Jeff Limbian, director of city law, said the city and the union would return to the table, while Charlie Smith, president of union 312, said the union held meetings Monday and Tuesday to determine next steps for membership .

Fact finder James Rimmel published his report on the three-year contract between the city and Local 312 on April 28th.

The impasse began when the union argued that the city was in “its best financial shape in decades” and that other jurisdictions similar to Youngstown paid their firefighters higher wages than the city’s firefighters.

As a result, the union called for a general wage increase of 3 percent each year of the agreement. They also called for the current wage scale to collapse in order to increase the starting wage and reduce the time it takes to reach the maximum wage rate.

The city argued that it still had a severe structural deficit and that its current “good financial health” was the result of the infusion of one-time cash from the workers’ compensation rebate and the CARES Act fund.

The city offered annual wage increases of 1 percent per year that take effect from the first full pay period after January 1 of each contract year.

Rimmel recommended that the city plan a general wage increase of 1 percent from January 1, 2021, as well as an additional increase of 1.25 percent for the pandemic bonus June 2021 and March 2022.

The current starting salary for a firefighter is $ 25,470. Rimmel recommended the new increase in the starting wage to $ 26,532.

Rimmel recommended reducing the number of steps for a firefighter to meet the maximum wage from 10 to 9, which would go into effect on January 1, 2023.

All council members at the meeting voted to reject the fact-finder’s recommendation. City councilor Julius Oliver, 1st district, was not present.

Councilor Mike Ray, 4th Ward, stood up for President DeMaine Kitchen.

“Just because we refused, there are some good points and I hope the administration can drive successful negotiations forward,” said Ray.

Smith said the union would issue a statement today (Wednesday) on the union’s decision.