AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Thursday, the City of Austin said it did not reach an agreement with the Austin Firefighters Association (AFA) and Austin firefighters regarding labor contract negotiations, according to a city memo.
The city said management had been working with the AFA for several months to achieve a mutually agreeable labor contract for the city’s firefighters.
“Within the past week the parties had arrived at mutually agreeable language for all of the contract articles, which included a wage package that would keep our firefighters the overall best paid fire department in Texas by a significant margin, a reduction in scheduled work hours that directly addresses the AFA’s request, and other enhancements to the firefighters’ working conditions,” said Austin interim assistant city manager Bruce Mills in a memo.
Mills said after agreeing on the contract language, management asked the AFA leadership to recommend the contract terms to its members; however, on Wednesday, AFA told the city it would not recommend the agreed contract.
AFA President Bob Nicks said that the city’s claims are untrue.
“Eight years ago, that might have been true,” said Nicks about the “best paid fire department in Texas” claim.
“The fire department has been treated very unfairly and denigrated over the last eight years,” Nicks said. “Our wages have dipped, while the rest of the fire departments have gotten better. We’re not even the highest paid in Travis County.”
According to the city, AFA also said it would not submit the proposed contract to its members for a vote.
“Given the efforts to try to achieve a negotiated labor contract that could be presented to the Council for approval, this is a disappointing result for both the firefighters and the City,” Mills said in the memo.
The memo said it appeared the labor contract with AFA would have to be resolved through the pending interest arbitration proceeding.
A final ruling by the arbitration panel is expected by mid-September, according to the memo.