Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton Fire Local 4600 wants a meeting with the Town Council

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Local 4600 of the International Association of Firefighters, representing the career firefighters of the Chesterton Fire Department, is seeking a “meet-and-confer” with the Town Council.

Meet-and-confer refers to the contractual obligation of a public safety employer to meet with the designated representative of a union local to discuss conditions of employment.

The subject of this particular meet-and-confer, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14: Local 4600’s concerns that adjustments made to the career firefighters’ work schedules, made by Fire Chief John Jarka per the Fair Labor Standards Act, will result in a 96-hour reduction of paid time for all 15 members of the local.

So Engineer and Local 4600 President Steve Williams told the Town Council at its meeting Monday night.

Williams’ specific request: that at least a majority of council members attend the meet-and-confer. “We feel strongly that a meeting with only one Town Council member does not satisfy the Indiana Code,” Williams said. “Due to the severe impact this issue will have on current and future firefighters of this town, their families, and our ability to recruit and retain skilled firefighters in the future, we again request a meet-and-confer with our employer, the Town Council, in whole or at least in majority form.”

A majority of council members at any meeting--including the one scheduled for Friday--would constitute a quorum and would require under the Indiana Open Door Act proper public notification at least 48 hours before the meeting begins.

Members did note that, in the past, all meet-and-confers were attended by a designated “team” comprised of the council member who serves as liaison to the CFD--in this case, Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th--the fire chief, and a town attorney. “That’s how it’s always been done,” DeLaney remarked.

Member Jim Ton, R-1st, wanted to know what specifically has changed, such that Local 4600 wants to meet with the whole council. Williams--who didn’t explain how exactly firefighters would see a 96-hour reduction of paid time--offered to speak to Ton personally. “Maybe it would be better for me to talk to you after the meeting to explain it to you,” he said.

“I would be more than happy to spend some time with you,” Ton offered, but he added that he has complete confidence in DeLaney’s ability to discuss the issue with Local 4600, with the understanding that the council as a whole has taken the local’s concerns under advisement. He suggested, accordingly, that Friday’s meet-and-confer take place as scheduled. “I would rather see us move forward and then go from there,” Ton said.

To that end, members voted formally to appoint as their delegated team DeLaney, Jarka, and a town attorney to be named later.

Vision, Life, and Dental

In other business, members voted unanimously to switch the municipal employees’ life and dental coverage from the current carrier, Lincoln Financial Group, to the town’s current vision provider, AXA, after Lincoln notified the town that its rates for those coverages were going to increase by 110 percent due to high usage of the plan.

Anton Insurance Agency, the town’s contracted agent, has determined that the switch of life and dental would save the town around $8,000. It would also, however, disrupt around 10 percent of Chesterton employees who are currently seeing dentists not in the AXA network.

Additional Appropriations

Meanwhile, members voted unanimously to approve a number of additional appropriations, following a public hearing at which no one spoke in favor of the measure or in opposition.

In all cases, the funding is available for the given budget line item but has not been formally appropriated, Kuziela told the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting. The additional appropriations include the following:

* General Fund: $234,163.49 for personnel; $7,800 for services; $750 for supplies.

* Motor Vehicle Highway: $99,990.44 for personnel; $89,200 from Supplies to Services.

* Local Roads & Streets: $57,650 for services.

* Cumulative Capital Develop-ment: $158,000 for capital outlays (emergency vehicles).

Kuziela did tell the council that the additional appropriations were lower than she had anticipated in preparing her 2018 budget, which means “we are going to have more money left over this year that we can use next year.”

Kuziela also told the council that, when informed of the lower than anticipated additional appropriations, the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance restored $135,899 which it had originally cut from the town’s 2019 General Fund.

DLGF has not yet released the town’s final budget order yet, which as Kuziela noted “sets our budget in stone.”




Posted 12/12/2018




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