Firefighters union, city reach tentative agreement

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
Dec. 21, 2002
The president of Meridian's firefighters union said Friday that he expects a new contract with the city will be approved by the city council sometime within the next two months.
Mike Sims, president of the Local 52, said the tentative contract agreement was reached Thursday after an hour-long meeting with city officials.
Sims said fellow firefighters, members of the International Association of Firefighters in Washington and the city's attorney will review the contract before the city council approves it.
The tentative contract agreement came a month after a similar meeting between the two groups ended without a compromise.
The firefighters union is trying to rework a 15-year-old contract with the city after problems surfaced last year over lack of training, low pay and poor living conditions at two fire stations.
Sims and other members of Local 52 met Thursday with Meridian Fire Chief Bunky Partridge, Ward 1 Councilmen George Thomas and others in a third-floor conference room at Fire Station No. 1.
At last month's meeting, the two sides couldn't reach an agreement on two issues: a guaranteed pay raise for firefighters and a struggle over the number of firefighters represented by the union.
The firefighters were seeking a guaranteed pay raise, but city leaders argued a pay raise could not be guaranteed.
City officials said the union shouldn't include firefighters with a rank of captain or higher and those who work in fire prevention; firefighters argued that would deplete a third of its members.
Sims said the two sides were able to find "common ground" on those two issues.
Ward 1 Councilman George Thomas agreed.
Thomas said he expects the new contract to be presented to the city council some time in February.
Until then, the city and firefighters' union are expected to continue to operate under the current contract, which was signed in 1988.

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