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Fulton, Firefighters Headed to Interest Arbitration

FULTON, NY – Labor agreement negotiations between the city of Fulton and the International Association of Fire Fighters, the union representing the city’s firefighters, have remained at a standstill.

The pair has been negotiating since a three year contract between the two expired at the end of 2014, with their failed efforts resulting in both parties declaring an impasse.

Both sides then jointly petitioned the Public Employment Relations Board  to seek a mediator to which further negotiation attempts were held to no avail.

Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. said the next step is to enter into interest arbitration, scheduled to begin in late June.

According to the NYS PERB website, a three-person arbitration panel may hold hearings, take written and oral testimony and other evidence, refer an issue back to the parties for further negotiation upon joint request of the panel members representing the parties, and ultimately, by majority vote, the panel will make a determination and award which is final and binding on the parties.

The arbitration panel will be made up of one member appointed by the city, one member appointed by the IAFF, and one public member jointly agreed upon to serve as chairperson.

The panel will then rule a contract not to exceed a length of two years.

The process of interest arbitration could end up costing between $50,000 and $60,000 upon completion, according to Woodward.

Although Mayor Woodward has not entered into interest arbitration with the IAFF at any time during his term, the city and the IAFF have entered into interest arbitration in the past.

“The only difference is that before, the city wasn’t deemed to be fiscally stressed like they are now,” Woodward said.

According to the office of the state comptroller, the city of Fulton was categorized for the fiscal year ending in 2015 as a city in moderate fiscal distress.

For city officials, the main issue that prolonged an agreement resolution was that of minimum staffing, Mayor Woodward said.

“Mainly our issue was staffing levels. And that does not mean eliminating firefighting positions, just to reduce the minimum staffing levels. That’s what generates overtime, that’s the dollars,” he said.

He explained that the minimum staffing for the department had been in effect since 1988, requiring that at least eight fire fighters are on duty at any given time.

The city firefighters work 24-hour shifts and while Woodward said he would hesitate to get rid of minimum staffing altogether, he proposed to drop the minimum staffing level to seven firefighters rather than the current eight.

“There’s a few other things, but that’s the main issue,” he said.

Ryan Maxam, president of the IAFF Local 3063 said the association does not have a comment about arbitration at this time.

11 Comments

  1. Mayor you need to resign immediately! You’re the one that made the city fiscally stressed. You and the common council have blinders on. I look at how you have royally messed up the Nestle project. The fire chief has been sucking money from the city for years. You have failed to take responsibility for your action and place the blame elsewhere. Tax payers need to wake up and tell the mayor to resign immediately. No wants ro speak up at ccommon council meetings for fear of intimidation. Your codes department is a joke. Oh wait wasn’t the fire chief in charge of codes until you brought in Joe to fix the mess up he did? Clean up your administration first.

  2. Mayor Woodward:
    It’s time to take the bull (Firefighter’s Union) by the horns like your young counterpart did in Oswego, & cut the department staffing & switch to regular 5/day work hours. Also, slash overtime to benefit pensions. Mayor Drohan wanted to do this years ago but, of course was thwarted by angry firemen/union. Oswego’s Mayor Billy proved that the firemen DO NOT have the public clout they thought the had! A recent house fire in Fulton not only called out Fulton FD but at least three surrounding VFDs. Mutual aid works very well!

  3. Get your facts straight Fulton went out to help the volunteers as part of the mutual aid system. And everything went well.

  4. The Mayor has been getting bulldozed by the fire and police depts for years. No one seems to care over 50% of Fulton’s tax revenue keeps those two entities solvent on duty and in retirement.

  5. A city that has fire damage of about $150,000 per year and spends $1,800,000 to put out those fires, needs a Math teacher.
    A better use of the money would be to just pay the owner the cost to rebuild and save the city over $1,000,000.

  6. You people using Billy Barlow as an example for your city’s Fire Dept. is Ludicrous to say the Least. Oswego is in for one hell of a change when multiple calls go out. Perfect example: Two Accidents, a Cardiac Arrest and a Kitchen Fire all go down within moments of each other – and yes it DID HAPPEN Easter Sunday. Six firefighters between the two Accidents and since both Menter rigs were tied up, OFD sent a truck and an Ambulance to the Cardiac leaving two personnel for the Kitchen Fire. That happens today, 15 Minute wait MINIMUM for VFD Assist from Scriba or Minetto not to mention a 10 Minute wait for Menter from Fulton. SOMEONE is going to DIE. Harsh truth, but it’s going to happen and o hope to god they sue the hell out of the City and the Mayor for lack of adaquete assistance due to Negligence. Many lawyers have already said it’s VERY possible.

  7. Do not put all the blame on the fire department & police department. The City also is 50% to blame. The City knew what they we signing at the time of contract negotiations.

  8. Fed up – those sorts of scare tactics are the only thing that currently keeps things the way they are. A properly managed fire department builds these sorts of things into their prioritization for calls for service. If the initial assessment of the vehicle accidents is minor injuries, that is a lower priority than a kitchen fire or a cardiac arrest. Quite frankly it perplexes me why you have to roll an engine and an EMS unit to the site of a minor car accident. That is just a waste of Fire fighting resources. Those lower priority events are perfect mutual support opportunities.

  9. Erik you say a properly managed fire department would help prioritize calls. That would be great if they had a fire chief that was competent to do the job. Ask the Mayor why he has not been held accountable for his lack of management or mismanagement. Better maybe you should FOIL for his salary for the last 5 years.

  10. I have tremendous respect for the police and fire fighters of our community, but the tax payers can’t afford their demands. I wonder how their pension and health benefits compare to my own. When I tell colleagues that I live in Fulton, they say, “Why?” They quickly remind me that I live in a city that taxes residents at the highest rate around, and my children are surrounded by poverty that has all of the accompanying societal challenges.

    If our current mayor can’t stand up to the demands that this community can’t afford, then he needs to go. We need new leadership and new ideas.

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