Crestwood aldermen weigh new memorandum of understanding with firefighters

A new memorandum of understanding between Crestwood firefighters and the city was up for consideration this week by the Board of Aldermen.

The board was scheduled to meet Tuesday — after the Call went to press.

Aldermen voted unanimously last June to have the city attorney draft legislation to adopt the three-year MOU with Crestwood firefighters, who are represented by Local 2665 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. 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.

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.

While the MOU and civil service rules are separate documents, 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 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.”

Becker told the board last June that Local 2665 would support a “bumping” provision for firefighters, one of the of the civil service rules changes that aldermen rejected.

“Bumping” occurs when employees whose jobs are eliminated move to another position for which they’re qualified. If that position is one which several people already hold, the employee scheduled to be laid off can “bump” out another employee — in Crestwood’s case, the one with the least seniority.

The city used to have such a provision in the civil service rules, but it was removed by the Civil Service Board during an extensive review of the document in 2006 and 2007.

Aldermen opposed to a “bumping” provision contended the city would risk losing good employees if one were included. However, Becker said skilled, young firefighters who are laid off have a better chance of being rehired quickly than those with 15 to 20 or more years of experience.