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Archive for Thursday, October 19, 1989

UNION SEEKS TO OVERTURN RULING

October 19, 1989

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Lawrence firefighters continue to push their case that a two-year labor pact implemented by the city earlier this year is a binding contract and in violation of state law.

The International Association of Firefighters Local 1596 and four of its members filed motions Wednesday asking Douglas County District Court to rule in their favor. The firefighters' motions were filed in response to an earlier request for dismissal of the suit by the city.

After the city and firefighters failed to reach agreement in labor negotiations earlier this year, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to implement a two-year work agreement for 1990 and 1991. Firefighters followed the commission decision by filing suit against the city in August, seeking to force the city to accept their one-year proposed agreement.

THE FIREFIGHTERS charge that the two-year "memorandum of understanding" implemented by the city is a legally binding contract and violates the Kansas Cash Basis Law. The cash basis law generally prohibits governmental entities from obligating themselves to budgetary expenditures for more than a one-year period.

The city maintains that the memorandum of understanding is not a contract, does not obligate the city to budgetary expenditures and is in keeping within the scope of the cash basis law.

In the papers filed Wednesday, firefighters called the city's two-year agreement void from the beginning and unenforceable by either party.

Firefighters say that because the two-year proposal is invalid, the court should direct the commission to implement the IAFF's one-year plan.

"THE CITY was obligated to select the agreement which was fair and equitable, and . . . it is nonsensical to suggest that an agreement which is void under Kansas law is either fair, equitable or logical," the firefighters say in the court briefs.

The agreement implemented by the commission gives firefighters a 4 percent salary increase in 1990 and a 3 percent salary increase in 1991. The firefighters had sought a one-year pact with a 4 percent salary increase in 1990 and discontinuation of the extra board, a system that allows the city to use part-time firefighters to substitute when regular firefighters are ill or on vacation.

Firefighters are represented in the suit by Topeka attorney John Frieden.

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