Talks with fire union go to arbiter
Contract negotiations are also under way with police and dispatchers.
By JEANNE STARMACK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Contract talks between the township and its firefighters are going to arbitration after three meetings.
Township administrator Mike Dockry and Dave Schertzer, president of International Association of Firefighters Local 3356, will not be specific about the contract issues.
Each confirmed, though, that the impasse has arisen over wages and health-care benefits.
The first stage of arbitration, Dockry said, is fact-finding. He said that the State Employee Relations Board provides an arbitrator who will listen to each side's proposal, then make a recommendation.
If one of the sides doesn't like that recommendation, arbitration will move to the second stage, which is conciliation, Dockry said. The conciliator will choose one proposal, with no compromise, Dockry said.
He said the township and the union have been meeting since November.
The township is also meeting with its dispatchers and police unions.
Dockry said that talks with the dispatchers are preliminary, and it's too soon to tell if they will go smoothly.
Nicole Churilla, president of the dispatchers local of the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said she wasn't prepared to talk about the issues.
Officer Allen Phillips, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 126, the police union, said he would not comment on specifics about issues in those talks. Dockry said that by the next meeting with the police union, he might have a better feel for how those talks will go.
The township and the unions have agreements not to talk to the public yet, Dockry said.
In talks with the dispatchers last year, a fact finder was called in. The union wanted a 4 percent raise in each year of a three-year contract, while the township offered 3 percent.
A full-time dispatcher makes around 37,000 a year.
Police officers make an annual base salary of around 45,000 a year, and firefighters make around 42,000, according to information from the township.
The dispatchers, police and firefighters all ultimately agreed last year to one-year contract extensions with pay freezes.