Firefighters contract completed in Weirton
WEIRTON — After months of negotiations, as well as legal action, the city and the Weirton International Association of Fire Fighters Local 948 have a new labor agreement.
During Monday’s meeting, Weirton Council voted unanimously in favor of two pieces of legislation related to the new contract.
The first was the second reading of an ordinance modifying the salaries for firefighters who are members of the IAFF Local 948. The second item was a resolution authorizing the city manager to execute the new contract.
While no comments were made prior to the council votes Monday, officials in November noted the contract would be for a one-year term and include a 12 percent increase in pay.
Following the meeting, Lt. Jim Brueck, president of the IAFF explained the lawsuit — filed by the IAFF against the city in the spring — would be dropped following Monday’s vote.
The lawsuit followed a decision by council not to apply for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant to assist in the hiring of more firefighters. Members of council have committed to applying for the grant next year.
“Our guys felt really strong about the manpower issue,” Brueck said.
Brueck explained the contract would take staffing from its current five to six firefighters per shift to between eight and nine per shift. It also would increase schedules from 48 hours to 56 hours per week.
Fire Chief Jerry Shumate offered his appreciation to those involved in negotiating the agreement.
“It’s been a long and nasty debate,” Shumate said, noting the new agreement will provide better staffing for the fire crews protecting the community. “Come Dec. 29, there will be four guys sitting on each fire truck.”
In a related matter, former city mayor and state Sen. Edwin Bowman was among those citizens addressing council earlier in the meeting, speaking on the fire contract issues, as well as the decision by council to increase residents’ portion of the city’s Police and Fire Service Fee. The two-phase increase would eventually see the residential fee go from $50 per year to $75 per year. The business portion of the fee has not been changed.
Council members previously stated the increase to the service fee would help to cover costs of staffing increases to the fire department.