Everett wins court battle with firefighters union

EVERETT — A state labor-management agency has ruled in the city of Everett’s favor in a long, drawn-out battle with the firefighters union about overtime and staffing issues.

Local 46 in 2011 filed a complaint with the state Public Employment Relations Commission alleging unfair labor practices. An examiner ruled in the union’s favor later that year. The city appealed in January 2012.

The appeal was upheld Wednesday.

City officials on Thursday declined to comment about the ruling other than in a prepared statement from Fire Chief Murray Gordon.

In the one-sentence statement, Gordon said city leaders are pleased. They want to put the disagreements in the past and move forward, he wrote.

The firefighters are disappointed with the decision, Union President Paul Gagnon said Thursday. They believe the result is reduced service and staffing levels, he said.

“This PERC decision is a loss for firefighters and the citizens we serve,” he said.

The union in 2011 alleged that the city changed policies regarding firefighter overtime and staffing levels without bargaining with the union, and then refused to negotiate about the changes.

The initial ruling ordered the city to pay the firefighters what would have amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars in “lost” overtime. That also was overruled.

The union has stressed for years that the changes reduced services and reduced safety. In the ruling, the state said the union’s main concern was firefighters’ reduced opportunities to earn overtime.

Much of the argument between the union and city has centered on how emergency vehicles have been used and how many firefighters and paramedics are assigned to each rig. The union has referred to the changes as public safety “brown-outs.”

The new ruling says that the city made changes in accordance with the union’s contract. It also says the city hasn’t leaned on neighboring fire departments too much to respond to emergencies within city limits.

Overtime and overtime opportunities are part of wages and benefits and are therefore subject to bargaining, the state found. However, parts of the union’s contract waived bargaining rights for the types of overtime opportunities under dispute, the ruling said.

The 12-page ruling is available at http://tinyurl.com/everettlaborruling.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

Talk to us

More in Local News

The aftermath of a fire that damaged a unit at the Villas at Lakewood apartment complex in Marysville on Saturday. (Marysville Fire District)
2 families displaced by Marysville apartment fire

Nobody was injured when the fire broke out Saturday morning on 27th Avenue NE.

Downtown Coupeville on Whidbey Island, March 2021. (Harry Anderson)
Whidbey Island real estate prices continue to climb

Despite a slight lull in August and September, it continues to be a seller’s market on Whidbey.

Gold Bar man airlifted after trying to start fire with gas

The man suffered severe burns after he used gasoline to start a fire in his yard.

Another housing unit at Monroe prison targeted for closure

A corrections leader says 502 workers could lose their jobs if they aren’t vaccinated against COVID by Monday.

Mill Creek Police at the scene of a fatal car accident on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (Mill Creek Police)
Police investigating Mill Creek collision where man died

A stretch of 35th Ave SE was expected to be closed for a few hours Friday night.

Everett firefighter who got cancer settles for $1.2M

It marks the end of a decade-long saga that started when Michael Weaver was diagnosed with melanoma in 2011.

Police say a woman had a concealed handgun in her possession as she was being booked on a DUI charge at the Snohomish County Jail on Wednesday. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Police: Woman had gun in her abdomen when booked into jail

The loaded Colt .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun was found in the folds of her flesh at the Snohomish County Jail.

Voting thing
Decision time: Ballots on their way to a half-million voters

Races for mayor, city councils and school boards are focal point of the Nov. 2 election in Snohomish County.

The concrete wall of the tennis courts at Clark Park in Everett was painted into a bright mural by people over two weekends. (Jay Austria)
Neighbors brighten Clark Park wall in Everett

People grabbed brushes and painted the concrete tennis court wall over two… Continue reading

Most Read