Fire union wins prohibited practice complaint; County wins impasse resolution

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By Carol A. Clark

The Los Alamos Firefighters Association Union 3279 has prevailed in the prohibited practices complaint it filed against the County of Los Alamos.

The Labor Management Relations Board ruled that the county committed a prohibited practice including a violation of the County Labor Management Relations Ordinance by unilaterally implementing a 3 percent pay increase for firefighters on April 7 without union consent.

The board asked what relief the union requested in the prohibited practice ruling.

“So I believe at this time that the appropriate remedy would be to find through an order of this board that the implementation is a prohibited practice, that it shouldn’t have been done and that the 3 percent should be cut off and that the matter should go to an arbitrator,” said union attorney S. Barry Paisner as quoted in the minutes of the hearing. 

The minutes also show that the union had requested firefighters return the 3 percent monies that they had received since April.

Union President Flavio Martinez explained why union leaders requested that relief during an interview this morning. “We went through quite a few months and quite a few meetings and discussed economic and non-economic issues and then came to the end of the bargaining agreement period. The county unilaterally approved that raise outside the bargaining process and we filed a complaint,” Martinez said. “I was not under the understanding that we had the option to keep the current raise and then continue negotiating from there; the union’s focus was directed at ensuring the county follows the law and stops authoring unilateral raises for our members outside the collective bargaining agreement.”

Fire Chief Doug Tucker explained this morning that the hope during contract negotiations was to come to an agreement that would provide the best economic package for the firefighters.

“That didn’t happen so we initially implemented the 3 percent raise. We will follow the finding of the board and continue to work through the collective bargaining agreement process to find the best economic package for our firefighters,” Tucker said.

The county prevailed in the second decision of the union’s complaint.

“The collective bargaining agreement between the firefighters and the county expired March 31 and had reached an impasse,” said County Attorney Mary McInerny. “We believe the board found rightly in the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement that both parties agreed to set forth the process for resolution of an impasse in the negotiations. So now we go through that process. We’ve already been through mediation and there has been no resolution so now we find a fact finder service and request a set of names and start the process of striking names until we come to a final name.”

Contact Carol A. CLark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext.25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.