The Crestwood Board of Aldermen tabled consideration last week of a new memorandum of understanding with city firefighters.
City Administrator Jim Eckrich asked the board to hold the measure because the firefighters, who are represented by Local 2665 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, had not yet approved the MOU.
A recent union meeting had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather, delaying members’ consideration of the new, three-year agreement, Eckrich said.
The board voted unanimously last June to have the city attorney draft legislation to adopt a new MOU.
Local 2665 and Crestwood officials had negotiated the document over the course of roughly one year before it was first presented to the board June 22. The previous agreement was negotiated in 2006.
However, the two parties reopened negotiations after aldermen in August defeated a series of changes to the city’s Civil Service Rules and Regulations relating to layoffs, employee political activity and alcohol and controlled substance policies.
Crestwood City Attorney Rob Golterman and Kurt Becker, a vice president with Local 2665, said at the time that the union agreed on the proposed MOU with the understanding that the Board of Aldermen would approve the modifications to the civil service rules.
During the second round of negotiations, Local 2665 expressed concern about the layoff policy in the MOU, according to Crestwood Fire Chief Karl Kestler.
“After discussing the matter at great length, the city’s negotiating team and Local 2665 ultimately agreed that the layoff provision from the previous MOU should be copied into the new MOU,” Kestler wrote in a memo to City Administrator Jim Eckrich. “This layoff provision dictates that any layoffs within the Fire Department be based upon seniority.”
Aldermen also debated at length last year over whether employees, particularly firefighters, should be able to openly campaign for local political candidates or causes.
While Becker has contended federal law gives municipal employees the right, as private citizens, to be politically active, some aldermen believe allowing employees to campaign for Crestwood candidates and issues would be problematic for the city.
The political activity section of the proposed MOU references the corresponding section of the Crestwood Charter, which states in part, “No city employee shall solicit any contribution for the campaign fund of any candidate for Crestwood city office or take part in the political campaign of any candidate for Crestwood city office. All employees may exercise their right as private citizens to express opinions and if a qualified voter in Crestwood, to sign a nominating petition for any city candidate and to vote in any city election.”
The MOU also includes an additional statement: “Employees of the city of Crestwood are encouraged to exercise their right to vote, but no employee shall make use of city time or equipment to aid a political candidate, political party or political cause, or use a city position to persuade, coerce or intimidate any person in the interest of a political candidate, political party or political cause.”