City of Lawrence &
Firefighters Union Reach Agreement
of Lawrence and the Lawrence Firefighters Union, Local 146
has come to an agreement that will bring back at least 8
firefighters to the department effective immediately.
“I wish I could tell you it’s 23,” said Mayor William
Lantigua who became personally involved in negotiations
after a one-on-one conversation with Local 146 President
Patrick Driscoll in early August. Positive discussions have
been taking place through September and the 57-7 vote by the
Lawrence Firefighters Union is a sign of stronger relations
between all parties.
"The Lawrence firefighters' priority has always been first
and foremost to protect the citizens who live and work in
this city," Patrick Driscoll, president of Local 146, said.
"Our members were willing to make concessions to better
staff the department for the overall safety of Lawrence. We
look forward to putting the negotiation process behind us
and working to fully restore the additional 15 positions
lost this past July."
The existing contract will be extended through June 30, 2011
with the following modifications voted upon by the Lawrence
Fire Department Union:
1) Union will waive all contractual stipends regarding fire
academy training FY2011.
2) Union will work 24 hours of overtime in FY2011 with no
compensation or cost to the City of Lawrence.
3) Union agrees to waive any contractual vacation buyback
rights for FY'2011.
4) Union shall not challenge the City's right to transfer
health insurance into Group Insurance Commission (GIC),
however maintains the right to impact bargain on such.
5) No wage increase for FY 2011.
6) The City will provide 1 additional personal day for
FY2011 not to be utilized during "prime time" (June —
September). This personal day must be used prior to December
7) Contractual clothing allowance shall be included in base
pay but will not be calculated towards any premium pay under
the contract (night differential, overtime, longevity).
Mayor Lantigua refused to say how many times and where they
met during that time only to say that, “We needed to keep
some details private from the media in order not to
jeopardize the negotiations. We met several times by phone
and in person,” he added.
The modifications listed above amount to an estimated
$241,000 in savings to the City of Lawrence. As a result,
Mayor Lantigua is committed to bringing uniformed personnel
back within the Lawrence Fire Department. With projected
revenue streams coming in higher than originally budgeted
and expected, Mayor Lantigua will move to match $241,000 in
concessions resulting in 8 firefighters being brought back
“This was part of the revenue collected from water and sewer
outstanding bills,” explained Mayor Lantigua.
Driscoll thanked the surrounding fire departments who
assisted with mutual aid this summer when staffing was at an
all-time low with just 72 Lawrence firefighters for a city
that has a population of approximately 72,000 spread over
eight square miles. "We are grateful to our brother and
sister firefighters from across the region who stepped in to
help this summer when multiple alarm fires challenged a
dangerously small staff. No lives were lost and that is
testament to the bravery and commitment of our colleagues."
The fire union has applied for a $6.5 million federal SAFER
(Staffing for Adequate Fire Emergency Response) grant to
help restore some of the positions lost to layoffs. Grant
recipients will be announced later this fall. If granted
this two-year grant will restore 38 positions in the Fire
Department, much higher levels than before the layoffs and
the city will have no obligations after the two years. “We
want permanent solutions, not temporary ones,” explained the
“The Police Union is adamant to continue conversations but
we want to stay positive until we bring the officers back,”
said Mayor Lantigua.