Fire agreement approved in Prairie


By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

Officials in Prairie Township have approved a collective bargaining agreement with the firefighters.

At a recent board meeting, Prairie Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker announced the agreement had been finalized after months of negotiations.

“Their old contract expired June 30, 2015, so they have been working for several months without an updated contract,” he said.

The biggest issues the union and the township were negotiating were pay and insurance premium contributions. Another issue was the details surrounding the promotional process.

The contract, which will span from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018, will give the union firefighters a 4 percent pay increase the first year of the contract, a 3 percent increase the second year of the contract and a 2 percent increase the third year of the contract.

“While the pay increases are higher at the beginning of the contract than previous years, they will now be paying 10 percent of their insurance premiums,” Hatmaker said.

The firefighters used to pay $520 a year for insurance premiums. The new contract calls for them to pay $1,880 a year.

The firefighters will receive retro pay for these pay increases.

Hatmaker said another issue that came up during the negotiations was the details surrounding the promotional process.

Usually a firefighter is promoted to lieutenant and a lieutenant is promoted to a captain.

However, the new process will allow a firefighter to be promoted to a captain if a lieutenant doesn’t pass certain tests or meet the requirements needed.

“I want to stress that this is in very limited circumstances,” Hatmaker said.

Hatmaker also noted that the contract negotiations took longer this year because the union committee went through contract page by page instead of coming to the township with what they wanted.

“There was a higher level of detail this year, which resulted in it taking a little longer to finalize,” Hatmaker said. “Also, it’s important to say that what came out wasn’t what either party originally asked for and it was a compromise from both parties.”

The new contact will affect 28 township union employees, all of which are a part of the fire department.

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