Town Council Adds Warrant Article to Address Firefighter Negotiations

At a continued public hearing on the fire department issues of overtime, staffing and contract negotiations, Town Manager Kevin Smith informed the Town Council that negotiations with the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) Local 3160 were at an impasse.

Councilor Tom Dolan, who noted that negotiations were only one vote away from an agreement, asked to have an additional article on the warrant to allow a special election, should an agreement be secured after the election in March.

“If you look at the last article on the warrant, which is Transaction of Other Business, I would recommend we number that article 15 and insert a new article 14 that reads something like this, ‘To see if the town will vote to authorize the Town Council to call a special meeting at its option, to address the ratification of a collective bargaining agreement between IAFF Local 3160 and the Town of Londonderry.’”

Dolan said if that article was approved by voters, if an agreement on the contract is reached later in the year, “it would allow us to have a special town meeting to ratify an agreement, without having to go to Superior Court, which can be expensive.”

Dolan said he was very disappointed negotiations weren’t able to conclude on the contract.

“If we’re that close, we should continue to see what we can do to reach an agreement throughout the next several months, otherwise the firefighters are going to be without a contract,” Dolan said.

Budget Committee Chairman Chris Melcher asked if a special election would be necessary if a mediator or an arbitration court occurred.

“If it’s not done by Nov. 1, we probably wouldn’t have a special election,” Council chairman John Farrell said. “The contract expires June 30, 2014 and the monetary pieces will go away and the language of the contract will stay in place. We’ll continue to operate under that and negotiate in good faith.”

Farrell added, “if they come up with something before the contract expires, then we may have to go to special election, and that would have to be agreed upon by both parties. It would be at the option of the Council.”

Dolan said his proposed article would give the Council the authority to call a special election, as opposed to leaving the authority in a Superior Court judge’s hands.

Councilor Joe Green asked where any cost would come from, and Smith said it would come from the Town Manager’s budget.

The council voted unanimously to create the article and also voted unanimously to put it on the warrant with a recommended yes vote.

The Budget Committee present at the meeting also voted to accept and recommend a Yes vote.

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