Long Overdue Labor Agreements Pass Huntington City Council

Updated 4 years ago by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
Long Overdue Labor Agreements Pass Huntington City Council

Having weathered storms of furloughs, layoffs, salary reductions, overtime and staffing disputes, the City of Huntington now has labor agreements with both the Huntington Professional Firefighters

Association (IAFF), Local  289, and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. 

The contracts passed council by unanimous vote.

Councilman David Ball, a former firefighter, praised the Williams administration  for making good on its campaign promise of negotiating agreements within the first six months of his administration.

District 3 council member Frances Jackson indicated that both labor and the Williams  administration had worked hard to get the contracts before us.

Although vacationing, councilman Scott Caserta said via e-mail, "I fully support and encourage passage of the contract items. I think this is setting a  great foundation to work from. Thanks to the administration and the  unions for pulling together on this".

Local 598 president Danny  Plybon, who has been ill, said, "we're not perfectly happy but it is the first contract we have had in five-and-a-half years". He referred to  "three occasions" during the Kim Wolfe administration where "they tried  to eliminate my job". He explained that former council member Jim Insco  and current Mayor Steve Williams worked to "save jobs" and find the  money.

Plybon added, "Our union is set to move the city forward".

Ray Canafax, president of Local 289 of the IAFF, told council, "It's been a long process to get here", referring to the time the firefighters spent without a contract. "This is a contract of trust and our membership is  looking forward to working with you in the years to come".

No  wage increases are contained in the agreements, but each contain  provisions for union bargaining representatives to meet each January  with the administration to discuss salaries. The time frame concurs with the period before the Mayor's annual proposed city budget and budget  hearings before city council.

Mayor Williams stressed that the unions were entering into a partnership with the city.

"I'm looking for partners to make the City of Huntington better", he said.

Williams cautioned that although the city's financial condition has improved the long term must be remembered. Conditions are not such that salaries or departmental budgets should be increased.

"Just because we have a few coins jingling in our pockets doesn't mean we should start handing out money," Williams said.

The firefighters contract provides for no less than 27 personnel on any shift. The number increases to 28 on July 1, 2014.

Previously, the firefighters had struggled with work rule changes. Last year, when  the OT budget surged out of control, then, councilman Williams told  union representatives "I can fix this" but asked that they first "bring  me a proposal," which they did.

The Mayor complimented the AFSCME local for "always answering the call" whether it be a "derecho, winter storm or flooding". Teresa Ball, a former employee of the AFL-CIO, will become the labor liaison within the Mayor's office.

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