WILKES-BARRE – Wilkes-Barre City Administrative Coordinator Drew McLaughlin has issued the following press release regarding concession negotiations with the police and fire unions:
The City of Wilkes-Barre announced today that it would fulfill its contractual obligation to pay all Wilkes-Barre Police and Fire Department personnel their Act 120 pay despite repeated efforts by the administration to negotiate a concession agreement regarding the pay. The administration negotiated an agreement with the Local 104 Fire Fighter leaders that stipulated:
• If the Act 120 pay was conceded by the Police Benevolent Association [PBA] and Fire Fighters International Local 104, Teamsters and Local 1310 conceded a 3% contractual raise, then the city agreed to rehire the 11 laid off firefighters on 1/28/13.
• The city would not lay-off any fire fighters between 1/28/13 and 3/1/14.
The offer was dated as of January 10, 2013 and a vote was scheduled for last weekend. The vote was then postponed until yesterday. Similar votes were also postponed by the PBA and Local 1310 until after the fire fighters voted. Last night, the Local 104 leadership announced that a vote had been completed but they refused to tally the votes, electing to keep the results hidden in a lock-box. They incorrectly cited failed votes by both the PBA and 1310 as justification for not releasing the final verdict by their members.
While the administration does not support the continued voting delay by any municipal union, both the PBA and 1310 merely postponed their votes. They did not reject the administration proposal outright. Leaders of the other municipal unions have publicly stated previously that if the fire fighters made a financial concession that they would respond accordingly.
The administration has offered a pathway for significant, guaranteed cost savings that would bring back 11 fire fighters within two weeks and it has been torpedoed unnecessarily again and again.
“I am extremely disappointed that even the most basic of concessions to guarantee savings and rehire 11 fire fighters immediately is unobtainable,” said Mayor Thomas M. Leighton, “There is no risk or harm to voting this measure up or down. The people of Wilkes-Barre who bear the brunt of financing the government want to see the largely unionized employee workforce share in the sacrifice.”