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Meridian firefighters union OKs contract

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
Aug. 8, 2003
Members of the Meridian firefighters union voted unanimously Thursday night to accept a proposed contract with the city of Meridian, ending months of negotiations.
Firefighters have been operating under a contract signed in 1988.
Mike Sims, president of the union, said about 15 union members met for an hour at Fire Station No. 1 to look over the contract which includes changes in overtime policy, but no pay raise.
Sims signed the contract and plans to take it to Mayor John Robert Smith today for his approval. Smith is expected to sign the contract; if he does, the contract and its provisions will take effect Oct. 1.
Thursday's vote came two days after the Meridian City Council unanimously agreed to accept the new contract.
Negotiations began in December when firefighters asked for a pay raise plan based on their longevity and rank. Councilmen, though, said they couldn't approve such a plan for firefighters because other city departments had nothing similar.
City employees, including firefighters, received an across-the-board pay raise last year.
Sims said the union eventually gave up on the pay raise. He said he plans in the near future to look into a possible citywide pay raise plan similar to the one he was pushing for firefighters.
Ward 3 Councilman Barbara Henson said the pay increase was the biggest hurdle city officials had to overcome in the firefighter contract negotiations.
Besides the pay raise plan, Sims said the biggest issue to him was a loophole in the current firefighter contract that allowed them to work overtime shifts and not be paid for them.
If approved by the mayor, firefighters would operate under the new contract for one year. They would be unable to renegotiate any part of the contract until at least September 2004.