union, requesting arbitration, files grievance against Kokomo
City has failed to bargain in good faith
By George Myers KOKOMO – The Professional
Firefighters of Kokomo Local 396 has filed a grievance against the city
of Kokomo relating to the two sides’ collective bargaining efforts and
the city’s denial of a request for arbitration.
The grievance, first
disclosed by Local 396 President Chris Frazier during last week’s Board
of Public Works meeting, states that “the city has failed and refused
to engage in collective bargaining in good faith.”
Notably, the grievance
also claims that the city “has refused the Union’s submission to
arbitration of items at impasse despite past precedent requiring such
submission.” Frazier did not provide additional details about what
specifically has deadlocked negotiations.
Counsel Beth Copeland responded to the grievance with a brief statement.
“The City has received
Local 396’s latest grievance. The Board of Public Works and Safety will
consider and respond to it in accordance with their collective
bargaining agreement,” she wrote in an email.
City ordinance lays out a
45-day negotiating window during which arbitration can be requested.
The two sides began negotiations on June 7, according to Frazier. He
noted that the potential contract’s length, usually 3 years, is still
to be determined.
But Frazier believes that
a previous ruling, made in 2005 in Howard Superior Court I, set a
precedent that if both sides agree to further negotiations, the period
to enter into arbitration extends past 45 days.
The union was first
informed in an email Oct. 25 by attorney David Swider, serving as
outside counsel representing the city, that it would not agree to
negotiating mutually past the 45 days to try to reach an agreement,”
said Frazier in an email. “We asked for arbitration as soon as we
reached an impasse in negotiations.”
Effectively, the union is
asking, in the grievance report, that the city be required to enter
“The city must be ordered
to bargain in good faith. The city must be ordered to allow the
arbitration of the items at impasse and all other proper relief,”
states the grievance’s requested settlement.
The most recent grievance
to gain public attention was in late 2016 when the Board of Public
Works denied a grievance filed in November by the Professional
Firefighters of Kokomo Local 396 that alleged the city violated a
The union’s grievance was
filed on Nov. 14, 2016, following a house fire less than a month
earlier that required Kokomo firefighters to call for Harrison and
Russiaville volunteer fire departments for water supply.
The union filed a
grievance, alleging that, “Calling for outside assistance from Harrison
Township F.D. violates … our contractual agreement. Tanker 1 was taken
out of service on this day to not pay overtime.
“This is common practice
of the KFD administration to take Tanker 1 out of service to avoid
Local 396’s settlement
request was “mandatory staffing of Tanker 1 at all times.”
Notably, though, it was
determined that the house fire on Oct. 19 was an “emergency situation.”
Because the section of
the contract highlighted in the dispute begins with the wording “Except
in an emergency situation…” the BOW ruled that KFD did not violate its
Myers can be reached at 765-454-8585, by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gpmyerskt.