NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Firefighters are voting on terms of a new contract that, if accepted, will end more than a year of bargaining with the city and avert a final decision reached during a conciliation hearing.
Fire Chief John Reese said Wednesday that the city’s firefighters are voting.
“It’s a tentative deal at this point, and we should know by Friday if they ratified it,” Reese said.
Firefighters are casting ballots on the proposed settlement by paper ballot at the main fire station on Avon Belden Road, Reese said.
City Law Director Andrew Crites credited the union with agreeing to speed up the voting process by allowing firefighters to vote as they work specific shifts, rather than wait to vote en masse at a membership meeting, which requires a 10-day notice.
Neither Reese nor Crites offered specific comment on terms of the settlement.
“The city is happy with the terms, and if it’s formally OK’d by the union, a contract will be on the Council floor Monday night,” Crites said.
Calls to Korey Stearns, president of Local 2129 of the International Association of Firefighters, were not returned Wednesday.
The union represents 34 firefighters.
Last week, the city indicated sessions with a conciliator were set to begin Monday, although Stearns indicated those meetings had been postponed to give the union’s attorney adequate time to finalize a preliminary report.
Contract talks, which began in October 2012, deadlocked over a proposed three-year package after City Council accepted the report of a Cleveland fact-finder, who sided with the city over proposed wage increases and other issues. Firefighters have been working without a contract since December 2012 when the last agreement expired.
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