goes on to inaccurately refer to Howard County Judge George Hopkins as
“Judge Tharpe” when citing Hopkins’ opinion that the two sides resolve
the situation through negotiations.
At the first
negotiation session, in June, the union presented the city with more
than 80 proposals to modify the contract, according to city records.
Those records also show that between June 7 and Oct. 11 the two sides
met eight times for a total of more than 40 hours.
agreement has yet to be struck, and union members have since denied a
specific proposal presented by city officials.
correspondence also says the union expects the city to send Kokomo
Mayor Greg Goodnight and two Common Council members to all future
negotiation sessions. Union officials believe their attendance is
legally required and hasn’t been fulfilled in past negotiation meetings.
fire union also recently filed four motions, two with Hopkins and two
with the Indiana Court of Appeals, in a case the judge ruled in the
wants Hopkins to reconsider his order allowing the previous contract to
expire at the end of December, and allow a new judge to hear the case.
In addition, the union is requesting an appeals court consider Hopkins’
records show that Local 396’s lawyers filed Monday for a “change of
judge,” and that the two parties were given seven days to agree on a
The city on
Thursday, though, filed a motion to strike. Kokomo corporation counsel
Beth Copeland said the city is "challenging the timeliness of the
union's request to change judges."
initially ruled against the union after it filed a lawsuit against the
city in early December, asking the court to not terminate the fire
contract at the end of 2017 and mandate the two sides enter arbitration.
Hopkins denied the union’s sweeping request for a contract extension
and later called the issue of an arbitration order “moot” in a written
ordinance lays out a 45-day negotiating window during which arbitration
can be requested. Though the two sides began contract negotiations on
June 7, the union did not submit a written intent to bring the matter
to arbitration until Oct. 6.
ruled that neither party requested arbitration within the 45-day window
following the first meeting, and never had any formal discussions about
extending or waiving deadlines.
months-long dispute between city officials and the Kokomo firefighters’
union took its most contentious and public turn on Jan. 22, when about
200 people, most wearing red shirts meant to symbolize union
solidarity, gathered at City Hall to protest the city’s handling of
Many in the
crowd represented local United Auto Workers unions.
ruling also became a point of contention for local firefighters
following a Jan. 24 Kokomo Board of Public Works and Safety meeting.
President Chris Frazier said following the Board of Works meeting that
the union will continue pursuing the court case, claiming that Hopkins
has not given “clear rulings.”
Goodnight has stood at odds with many of the union's claims.
responded to the rally in an interview with Indiana Public Media,
saying Local 396 was previously adamant about receiving a 15 percent
raise over three years.
statement differs from those made by union officials, who said at the
rally they are only looking for health insurance “parity” with the
Kokomo Police Department.
compare their wages and benefits package with the surrounding areas and
even other second-class cities, they’re usually in the top tier in all
aspects, whether it be vacation days, holidays, general pay and even
retiree benefits and health care,” said Goodnight.
without a contract, but it’s because of their own doing – their
inability to either read or comprehend the ordinance, which was written
in the 1970s.”
can be reached at 765-454-8585, by email at
email@example.com or on Twitter @gmyerskt.