Wilmington safety employees receive raises after negotiations

Myers: Contracts ensure safety for citizens, firefighters

By Nathan Kraatz - nkraatz@civitasmedia.com

WILMINGTON — Wilmington police and firefighters will receive raises for the next few years after contract negotiations that were completed in November, while other city employees will need to negotiate with Mayor John Stanforth next year.

Then-Wilmington Mayor Randy Riley said he, Andrew McCoy and Wilmington Law Director Brian Shidaker worked on the contracts. Riley, who is now President of Council, said previously that those contracts give raises to police, firefighters, police sergeants and the police department’s chief detective, and also reclaim some management rights.

“You can’t negotiate with the union without putting some projected raises in there,” Riley said, adding that over the years, the city relinquished management rights, some of which have been reclaimed with the recent contracts.

“They wanted to bargain how to schedule to people, when to schedule people – that’s a management thing,” said Riley. “The actual scheduling of staff, the equipment that they use, that’s a management right.”

Wilmington Fire Department Lieutenant and Wilmington Professional Firefighters President Edward Myers said he believed the firefighters’ contract was fair and didn’t relinquish many rights.

“With the city guaranteeing two years of no layoffs, that would provide two years of ensured safety for the city,” Myers said.

Myers later said the department is staffed at its lowest in his 17 years there and is on pace to have a record amount of fire runs volume. “But we’re making do,” he said.

“The firefighters’ union’s number one priority is public safety,” he said.

Myers said the firefighters did relinquish a “me too” clause that gave them a raise if another city department’s employees received a raise. He said he believed the other two unions also gave up that right, and no mention of such a clause could be found in the contracts.

The fire contract provides 2 percent annual raises to each of the salary steps for firefighters in 2016, 2017 and 2018. It expires at the end of 2018.

The police contracts provide 2 percent annual raises to each step salary near the end of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Additionally, police receive 75 cent wage adjustments before those raises in 2015 and 2017 and a 50-cent wage adjustment in 2018. That contract expires near the end of 2019.

The police sergeants and chief detective, which have their own union, negotiated a five-year contract. That contract calls for 2.5 percent raises at the end of 2015 and 2016 as well as 3 percent raises at the end of 2017, 2018 and 2019. Their contract expires near the end of 2020.

Other city employees did not receive raises, but Riley previously said newly-sworn Mayor John Stanforth will have the opportunity to negotiate with those employees, who have a task force rather than a union.

Only the city’s police, fire, police sergeants and chief detective are unionized.

Riley said that task force meets with the mayor after a union negotiation to talk about other city employees’ salaries. A city employee, Julie Schanda, publicly asked council to consider the other city employees’ salaries already.

Riley said it’s important to treat all employees fairly. If one group is consistently passed over will eventually form a bargaining unit itself, he said.

“It’s just so much easier to treat your employees with dignity and respect and pay them what they’re worth,” Riley said. “Things are tight, but it’s still important to make sure employees are treated well.

“Employees are your greatest asset,” he added.

Riley said he didn’t want to negotiate those employees’ salaries before his term as mayor ended for fear that it would hamper Stanforth’s ability to manage the city.

The approved contracts also govern many topics from holidays and vacation pay to drug and alcohol testing and what flashlights the city must provide for officers.

Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.

Myers: Contracts ensure safety for citizens, firefighters

By Nathan Kraatz