London Fire Fighters are forced to continue costly Arbitration,…
We question who is actually running city hall?
The Current State of the Ongoing Labour Dispute
Between London Fire Fighters and the City of London
London’s Professional Fire Fighters are currently working on the front lines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year providing professional fire, emergency response and support services to you and your family – all for less than $0.80 per day. Due to staffing shortages, London Fire Fighters are also working many additional hours of overtime to keep trucks in service and maintain an industry standard minimum staffing level, ensuring we arrive at your home as quickly as possible with enough fire fighters to keep you and your family safe. Despite our continued dedication to the residents and businesses of London, fire fighters are working under a Collective Agreement that expired six (6) years ago, December 31, 2010. Upon attempting to negotiate a new Collective Agreement at that time, The London Professional Fire Fighter’s Association had to respond to a position taken by the City of London that has created a lengthy and extremely costly interest arbitration.
We have participated in 39 days of interest arbitration hearings, spread out over these past six (6) years. We will need over a dozen more days of hearings before we expect this labour dispute will be settled. The London Professional Fire Fighter’s Association is sad to report this current arbitration has become the longest and costliest contract dispute in the history of collective bargaining in the fire sector in Canada. Perhaps most unfortunate, are the latest developments. We discovered the City of London has mysteriously deleted emails from a former Deputy Chief, notwithstanding an order by the Arbitrator that they be turned over to us. This Deputy Chief was a key member of the City’s bargaining team throughout this process. These email deletions occurred in the face of a City of London by-law that requires all correspondence related to an arbitration process to be held for 20 years. If that is not concerning enough, the City of London has also refused to turn over a series of documents that have also been ordered produced, by the Arbitrator. The City is claiming these documents are protected by solicitor-client privilege. The City’s solicitor-client privilege argument has already been heard and rejected by the arbitrator on more than one occasion. The City of London is now adding months to an already protracted proceeding by seeking a court review of the Arbitrator’s order.
Over this past summer, in an attempt to find a resolution to this unprecedented dispute, the Arbitrator “strongly encouraged” the City of London and the Fire Fighters to return to mediation with the assistance of a well respected and experienced mediator. These mediation hearings failed, despite the London Professional Fire Fighters Association proposing a settlement that would provide over $5 million in concessions during the term of the contract and continue, in perpetuity, to provide compounding savings to the Corporation. The London Professional Fire Fighter Association’s proposal was carefully constructed and presented at mediation to provide taxpayers real savings, and eliminate the costs of continuing the arbitration process. As the longest and most expensive contract arbitration in history, finding a resolution also attempts to reset labour-management relations, which will suffer indefinitely as a result of the City’s behavior. The Association also believes this proposal would establish a working agreement that is fair and reasonable for our fire fighters.
Unfortunately, the City of London cast aside real savings and wanted unprecedented and extraordinary concessions. The City’s elected officials and senior management staff chose to leave millions of dollars on the table and continue with the extremely costly arbitration process instead.
In light of these developments, London’s fire fighters are left puzzled and unable to answer a number of important questions:
Who is running the City of London? – Throughout this process, and in hopes of attempting to settle this dispute, The London Professional Fire Fighter Association has attempted to engage in conversations with the Director of Human Resources, the CAO, the Mayor, and a number of City Councillors. Despite our efforts, we are left scratching our heads as we try to figure out who is actually running this City. Conversations with the Mayor were one-sided as he continues to hide behind a “council code of conduct”. The Mayor simply refuses to engage in a conversation, leaving staff to make decisions that spend taxpayer money. Calls to City Councillors predominately go unanswered. A small minority of Councillors will have a conversation, but refuse to engage in the issues, citing the “council code of conduct” and referring questions back to the mayor, perpetuating the frustrating and unproductive run-around. The CAO simply refers all questions to the Director of Human Resources. All of this seemingly at odds with the Mayor’s campaign commitments to bring transparency and integrity to the City of London. Why won’t the mayor take an interest in the savings rejected, and left on the table? Why don’t your elected Councillors have genuine input on the outcome of this process?
Why does the Director of Human Resources have so much power? – City Council was elected in a democratic process and is supposed to represent your interests. Why then do they refuse to engage in a process that would avoid a needless waste of taxpayer’s money? Why won’t Council insist on seeing and reviewing the proposal offered by the London Professional Fire Fighter’s Association with it’s millions of dollars given back to the taxpayers? Is council getting the whole story or just the version that the Director of Human Resources wants them to get? Why is your Mayor and City Council not willing to discuss the proposal? Why are they putting so much power into the hands of unaccountable city staff?
What is the main item in dispute? – As in most labour impasses, one of the main issues in dispute is wages. The London Professional Fire Fighter’s Association has requested nominal salary increases that maintain our historic wage parity relationship with London Police, a wage determination standard that is in place in nearly all large municipalities in Ontario. Parity between police and fire fighters is nothing new and, in fact, exact wage parity between London’s fire fighters and police has been in place since 2000. Before 2000, fire fighters received “approximate parity” (something slightly less than dollar-for-dollar parity) with police for more than sixty (60) years. This parity principle has been upheld repeatedly in the City of London through both freely negotiated and arbitrated collective agreements. Curiously, in the contract negotiations just prior to this one, the City was “eager” to replicate the police/fire wage standard. What could possibly have changed from one year to another? We stand behind our Police/Fire wage parity request on the principle that it is morally sound, reasonably practicable, and legally defensible.
What is the City of London hiding? – After hearing arguments about solicitor-client privilege, the City of London was directed by an Arbitrator’s order to turn over a number of documents related to this case. It was then conveniently discovered that a number of the documents had disappeared. Instead of complying with the Arbitrator’s order, the City will drag this process out by challenging the Arbitrator’s decision before the courts. The City’s leaders claim to champion transparency and a supportive workplace. What are they hiding in these documents that they are refusing to turn over? How is it possible that emails are deleted in violation of their own by-law? How are key documents that were ordered by the arbitrator unable to be retrieved? Does this reflect transparency?
How much has this lengthy process cost the taxpayer? – We know how much this never ending process has cost the member’s of the London Professional Fire Fighter’s Association, but we are curious how much this process has cost the taxpayers of this great city of London. Based on the thousands of hours with lawyers and expert witnesses, our best estimate is that the City’s costs are approaching $2 million. Combine that with the $5 million that the City’s Director of Human Resources left on the table at mediation and the totals are breathtaking. Unfortunately, the City remains very tight lipped on this process, and will only engage in conversation with your council about it behind closed doors. Perhaps it is time for the Corporation to actually practice transparency, and not just suggest it. Why won’t the City of London be open with the taxpayers and release the exorbitant cost of this unprecedented arbitration?
How can you help? – Normally, it is London Fire Fighters and our other Emergency Response Partners coming to your door to assist you, but today, we are asking for your assistance. It is time to get these key questions answered. We are encouraging you to call your elected Councillor and demand answers. You are entitled to the answers. Do not let them hide behind a cloak of secrecy and refuse to answer. These are your elected representatives who are supposed to represent you and should be accountable to you. We also encourage you to share our message through your social media channels, and please ask your friends and family to pursue the answers as well. We are asking you to seek the truth and know the facts. You deserve answers to these important questions. Demand accountability from your elected officials.
Thank you for taking the time to hear our concerns. If you have any questions or wish to discuss this ongoing issue further, please don’t hesitate to contact our London Professional Fire Fighter’s Association office at (519) 434-7211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download A Copy Of The Media Release CLICK HERE Based on the average assessed property in the City of London.
 City of London Records Retention By-Law
London Professional Fire Fighters 911 Memorial Service
Thank you to all who attended today’s 911 Memorial Service. It was our honour to present the Pierce Medal to the family of Captain Vincent Hart. Captain Hart’s name has been added to the 2016 Memorial Monument in honour for Firefighters who have died in the line of duty. This was our first time live streaming a live event for our association. After working out some technical glitches it wag great for our association to be able to share this event with you.
Sunday September 11th 2016
LPFFA President Jason Timlick Address to the Memorial Service
September 11th, 2016 President Jason Timlick Speech
Good morning and thank you for attending to share in our ceremony today.
The events that unfolded on September 11th, 2001 changed the face of the world forever.
Today marks the 15th anniversary of those horrific events that claimed the lives of almost 3000 people.
Emergency services workers reported for duty that day much as they would have any other day.
Ready to respond to wherever they were called and do whatever it took, to help protect the lives of ordinary citizens in the communities they served.
Little did they know what would happen that day?
I am sure everyone has vivid memories of where they were when the news of the attacks came through and again when each of the towers collapsed taking the lives of so many.
We must not allow ourselves to forget the police, firefighters, paramedics and civilians who perished on that fateful day.
As a Firefighting Family, it is incumbent upon us to remember our Brothers and Sisters who selflessly gave of themselves 15 years ago.
We also turn our thoughts to all those firefighters, first responders and those who serve in our Nation’s Armed Forces that have also made that ultimate sacrifice in the service of their communities and this country.
First responders work every day in this community and in communities all over the country to ensure that people and property are safe and saved when the call for help comes in.
We are just ordinary people, who may be called upon to act in extraordinary situations.
We rely on our peers, training and experience to accomplish the tasks set out before us while always trying to make sure we all come home safe at the end of our shift.
Many things go into allowing us to do the job we all love.
But the single most important thing is the support, understanding and love of our families.
They sacrifice much over our careers and there is no amount of thanks or recognition that could ever be enough for what they do or what they often have to give up.
They are the ones who allow us to follow our dream and do the job we love.
This morning we add one name to the granite memorial you see before you.
After bravely serving this community throughout his career he in the end lost his life to an occupational disease and that sacrifice is recognized as a Line of Duty Death today.
Nothing can ever replace what has been taken from his family, but we want them to know that the almost 300,000 members of the IAFF mourn their loss and we recognize the bravery this family has shown in support of our fallen brother.
On behalf of our General President Harold Schaitberger, I will be presenting the medal to the family today.
In the near future, his name will also be inscribed at the OPFFA memorial in Toronto and on the granite walls at the IAFF fallen firefighter memorial in Colorado Springs.
Nothing will bring your loved one back, but we will remember him and the sacrifice he made for this community.
Thank you once again for your support on this day and for being here to also support this brave family of our fallen who are gathered with us.
I will now present the Martin E. Pierce medal of honour.
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