Tiffany Asher, [email protected]
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING — The Rock Springs City Council had a meeting in a special session last night at 6 p.m. in the downstairs conference room at City Hall. The purpose of the meeting is to continue negotiations with members of the International Association of Fire Fighter Local #1499 concerning a Collective Bargaining Agreement. During last night’s meeting, different offers were placed on the table for negotiation.
Councilmember Rob Zotti said, “Where we left off last week with the offer of 10.5% COLA (cost of living adjustment) and 3% range, we didn’t feel comfortable giving an offer at that point.” Zotti went on to mention that the City of Rock Springs wants to do right with the firefighters and provide them with the things needed to succeed. “In order to do that we have to balance a lot of things within the budget.” Zotti proposed a new offer of 3% COLA and a 3% range to start the negotiations.
Luke Geffre, President of the Rock Springs Firefighters IAFF Local #1499 said, “Looking back in the last ten years, the city has kept up with COLA, with the exception being the last few years. We have not submitted a proposal to get caught up due to the shortfall, but if we cannot keep up with COLA, we are only digging ourselves into a deeper hole we cannot crawl out of. The 3% range movement doesn’t affect all the firefighters.” Geffre explained that there are about 18 firefighters that will be affected by range. The range takes 7 years to reach before a firefighter is maxed out. Geffre went on to mention that with the issues that happened with the ambulance service, they have been more heavily relied upon.
After a brief break, the IAFF Local #1499 counteroffered with an 8% COLA and a 1.5% range. The City of Rock Springs came back with a counteroffer of 5% COLA and 0% range or go back to the original offer of 3% COLA and 3% range.
After learning about the 5% COLA offer, Geffre countered again with an “8% of top firefighter pay and 0% on the range movement,” explaining that this would keep the ranges closer together to what they have been discussing. According to Geffre, the 8% would create a $2.11 wage increase, per employee (a flat dollar rate), since the top firefighter wage is at $26.41. Geffre explained, “The people on the bottom and those more entry-level would in a way almost see a range movement, but the guys on top will be losing that.”
After the last counteroffer from IAFF Local #1499, the City of Rock Springs took a minute to discuss the offer. When everyone returned, Zotti expressed that they needed a little more time and wanted to do more wage research before proceeding forward with either an acceptance or a different offer. “We want to look at this a little bit more and see how this affects the rate study.”
It has been common every year for multiple meetings to take place before IAFF Local #1499 and the City of Rock Springs to usually make a decision. The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 5 at 5:00 p.m.