MCALESTER, OK – On Tuesday evening the McAlester City Council authorized the city manager to sign a collective bargaining agreement with firefighters after the mayor refused to sign it.
The agreement was approved by voters last month after a year of negotiations between the city and firefighters proved unsuccessful.
McAlester Mayor Steve Harrison refused to sign the agreement because he disagrees with a section of it.
“There was one provision in the contract that said the City of McAlester had been responsible for serious injury and death over the years. i disagreed with that, thought it was totally false, and I could not in good conscience sign the contract because of that one statement,” said Harrison.
Harrison also said McAlester firefighters’ pay was on the high end of the scale compared to other Oklahoma cities.
“We were trying to get more in line with the average [pay],” said Harrison.
Mike Coniglia, president of the local chapter of the International Association of Firefighters, said the fire department’s pay is on average with other Oklahoma cities who provide a similar level of service, and said city officials were trying to mischaracterize what firefighters were asking for.
“They turned this whole election around to make it look live we were asking for all these benefits and we weren’t,” said Coniglia. “Basically if you look at what we’ve gotten, we just got back what they took from us.”
Coniglia said there were six issues in dispute, including holiday leave, vacation time, sick leave and training incentives.
Coniglia said he was pleased the city manager was given the authority to sign the agreement and hopes everyone can move on from this issue.
“We’re trying to put this behind us and we’d like to get back to provide the service to the citizens like we’ve always have,” said Coniglia.
McAlester city attorney, William Ervin, said although historically the mayor signs off on documents on behalf of the city, he is not required to be law.
Ervin said any city official can be designated to sign off on a document. In this case, the city manager has been designated.
City manager Peter Stasiak could sign the agreement some time this week.