MFPD union employees seek pact with board

By Mike Anthony

Mehlville Fire Protection District union employees want to negotiate a collective-bargaining agreement with the Board of Directors, but board members say they prefer to continue to operate under the district’s existing employee manual.

MFPD union employees have not operated under a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, since Dec. 31, 2002. In September 2007, the board voted unanimously to adopt an Employee Manual of Policies and Procedures, or EMoPP.

The employee manual covers such policies and procedures as probation, personnel reduction, termination, salaries, benefits, minimum manning requirements, unscheduled overtime, trade time, promotional guidelines, grievances, educational benefits, leaves of absence, sick leave, workers’ compensation and discipline.

In December, the board and administration proposed myriad changes to the EMoPP.

Board Treasurer Bonnie Stegman told the Call the proposed changes are “minor.”

“I would say, for the most part, they’re minor,” she said of the proposed changes. “A lot of it is just cleanup and changing verbiage and things like that, maybe trying to clarify things a little bit.

“But I don’t think there’s anything major (or) earthshaking in there.”

In a Jan. 3 letter to Chief Brian Hendricks, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665 Shop Steward Michael Yemm wrote, “… While I completely understand that the district has the right to establish safe and effective policies and procedures, some of the items in the employee manual seem to be better placed into a collective-bargaining agreement.

“Therefore, I would like to respectfully request that we begin the process of entering into negotiations to establish a collective-bargaining agreement between the Mehlville Fire Protection District and the Mehlville Firefighters Shop of IAFF Local 2665 …”

MFPD employees formerly were members of IAFF 1889, but merged with Local 2665 in September 2011.

MFPD union employees’ last MOU was negotiated by the Board of Directors and Local 1889. That three-year pact, approved in 1999, covered 2000, 2001 and 2002.

During a meeting of the Board of Directors last month, Chairman Aaron Hilmer acknowledged the receipt of Yemm’s correspondence.

MFPD Capt. Nick Fahs, who serves as Local 2665 7th District vice president, addressed the board, saying, “We just really wanted to see if you had any questions about it … We really just wanted to extend the offer that we would like to sit down with you as the board and possibly the chief, if you would like, and try and open some discussions to maybe come together and form a collective-bargaining agreement that everybody would be happy with.

“We have nothing earth-shattering on the table. We think it would be a pleasant process.”

Hilmer referenced the proposed EMoPP changes.

“.. We want to vote on that real soon …,” he said, adding that if union leaders wish to propose any changes, the board would like to see them.

Regarding the proposed EMoPP changes, Fahs said, “… That would certainly be something we’d like to incorporate into a total, overall agreement, if we could.”

Hilmer said, “Well, either way, we want to get rolling on those, so how do you want to do that?”

Stegman said, “… I think the process that we’ve kind of developed is to use that employee manual, and that we encourage you, as we always have, if you don’t want to just meet with the chief to make the changes, if you want to bring written proposals to the board meetings in open session and we can discuss them … and continue that process.

“I don’t see us starting any other new procedure at this time.”

Hendricks said he would be happy to meet with union leaders. Any changes they proposed to the EMoPP would be brought to the board by the chief.

Fahs said, “But ultimately, you would like to see the EMoPP stay as our presiding document.”

Stegman said, “Yes.”

The proposed EMoPP changes were on the board’s Feb. 5 agenda, but no representatives of Local 2665 attended the meeting.

The board is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, at district headquarters, 11020 Mueller Road.