Use Of Part-Time Firefighters To Meet Staffing Requirements Violates Contract

Firefighters for the City of East Cleveland, Ohio are represented by Local 500 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. When the City was unsuccessful in bargaining with Local 500 to reduce minimum staffing levels from 14 to ten, it began to hire and use part-time firefighters to meet the minimum staffing requirements.

Local 500 successfully obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting the City from using part-time firefighters pending resolution of a grievance it filed challenging the City’s decision under the collective bargaining agreement.
An arbitrator sided with Local 500. The Arbitrator pointed towards provisions in the collective bargaining agreement that mandated that the City hire firefighters on an overtime basis in order to meet minimum staffing requirements. In the Arbitrator’s view, those provisions made it clear that the City was only allowed to meet the minimum staffing requirement through the use of bargaining unit members.

Citing the comments of the judge who granted the temporary injunction that the City’s arguments were “inconsistent and unpersuasive,” the Arbitrator noted that the City’s bargaining proposals indicated it recognized that the contract did not give it the right to use part-time employees: “If the existing language allowed the use of non-bargaining unit firefighters to meet the minimum manning requirement, the proposal was unnecessary.”

City of East Cleveland, Ohio, LAIG 6516 (Nelson, 2007).

This article appears in the October 2007 issue