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Shaker Heights Fire Union Pulls Support for Merger

International Firefighters Association 516 submits letter to city: We will not support consolidation without meeting with both cities, administrators and fire unions

The Shaker Heights IAFF 516 submitted a letter to the city Feb. 11 condemming what it says is movement toward a University Heights-Shaker Heights fire department consolidation without involving the two cities' fire unions.

"IAFF Local 516 has repeatedly asked, and subsequently repeatedly been denied, to be a part of the process, to have questions and concerns identified and to work collectively with both City Administration and the leadership of University Heights Firefighters IAFF Local 974."

Read the full letter here.

Mayor Earl Leiken said the city has "kept the unions advised" of the two councils' actions so far. He added that the unions were not involved with how to structure the MOU because it does not address labor concerns - such as wages, hours or working conditions.

"The issues that we have been dealing with at this point have been issues relating to the financial arrangements between the cities, the composition of the council of governance — and those are all management business issues."

He added that the councils intend to involve the unions more if an agreement outlining the management issues is reached.

The unions' counsel Susannah Muskovitz told Patch that the unions heard about a memorandum of understanding outlining the format of the two cities' agreement only the morning that it was released to the public.

"The city's decision to move ahead without them is troubling," she said Feb. 1, when the city released the MOU. "They have made it very clear to the mayor and city council and the administration from day one that they want to be part of the process, that they have a lot to offer, that if they're are excluded from the process it could cause problems."

City officials initially said that they hope to reach an agreement by March, but Leiken said today that the timeline may be pushed back.

Elliot Ness February 15, 2013 at 02:31 AM
You have to love Unions. This one tells the leaders how to run the citys business Please don't knuckle under to these free loading civil servants. As a resident, I don't pay taxes to let the fire department run the city.
Mark Zetzer February 15, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Privatize the fire and rescue service so that only property owners pay for it among competing providers. Taxpayers are being robbed and Cities are going broke from these unionized monopolies who think themselves public masters rather than public servants. A privatized fire and rescue service would not operate with large, paid firefighting teams, but would rely more on paid-on-call, and volunteer responders. This would cost property owners less than the portion of the tax they pay now for this service, and would emancipate taxpayers of this burden. True privatization, as opposed to cronyism, should be considered for all essential city services as a way to cut costs and tax rates and revive the local economy.

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