Austin Firefighters reach bargaining agreement with city

AUSTIN – The City of Austin and Austin Firefighters Association (AFA) have reached a collective bargaining agreement, the AFA confirmed Monday.

“I think it’s going to put a, kind of close the book on these past disputes and allow us to work well together going forward,” said AFA President Bob Nicks.

Some firefighters have been less than happy with their work conditions in the absence of an agreement.

“When you have these sort of disputes going on, it’s destructive to the entire work environment,” Nicks, who is also an AFD Battalion Chief, said.

The agreement dictates AFA members wages, benefits and working conditions.

There hasn’t been an agreement between the city and AFA since 2012. Every year the city council budgeted money to give firefighters raises but they didn’t take it. Nicks said that was their way of sending a message to the city that the firefighters were taking a stand on the main issue that led to no contract: hiring.

“We never were in charge of the process, we never want to be in charge of the process, but as far as being important stakeholders at the table of how we select firefighters, who would know better how to do that than firefighters,” said Nicks.

Under the proposed agreement, the AFA will have a say in hiring. They will also be added as a party in the consent decree between the city and Department of Justice to dictate AFD’s hiring practices. As a result, the AFA will drop two appeals against the city based on the consent decree. The two year contract also includes a five and a half percent raise for firefighters which equates to back pay from the last two years that they didn’t get raises.

AFA members have until Thursday to approve the agreement then it will go to council for approval. The District Court and 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will have to add the AFA to the consent decree and approve the agreement.

KVUE News reached out to the city for comment. Leaders said they may have a statement later this week.

The deal could be final by July.

Nicks said he is thankful for the city council that voted in February to begin contract negotiations.

http://www.kvue.com/story/news/local/2015/05/11/austin-firefighters-reach-bargaining-agreement-with-city/27139791/