City, firefighters union to exchange final contract proposals before City Commission steps in

photo by: City of Lawrence

Federal mediators James Albano and Stephanie Haynes, at end of table, far right, hold a meeting between the City of Lawrence and members of the local firefighters union, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, at City Hall.

After a week of mediated negotiations, the City of Lawrence and the local firefighters union have been unable to resolve disagreements regarding a new employment contract.

The city announced the end of the mandated seven-day mediation period in a news release Thursday. The city and union, the International Association of Firefighters Local 1596, had been meeting with a mediator from the United States Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service from Aug. 1 until Wednesday, after coming to impasse on negotiations that began at the end of April.

The contract, which expires at the end of this year, covers wages, benefits and working conditions for firefighters, fire engineers and fire lieutenants in the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department. Before mediation began, the two sides had been unable to agree on how much of a wage increase was needed to keep firefighter pay competitive, among other issues such as longevity pay, overtime pay and extra pay for certain duties.

The city and union are expected to exchange proposals on unresolved issues Thursday, and if an agreement can’t be reached by Sunday, the sides will be required to submit proposals to the City Commission for final consideration, the city said in the release. The sides could continue exchanging proposals until an agreement was reached or the commission holds a public hearing, according to the release. No date has been set for a potential hearing by commissioners.

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