City officials took the drastic step Tuesday of canceling the collective bargaining agreement between the city and its 414 employees in the fire union covered by the contract, reports the Corpus Christi Caller.
The move came after more than three hours of closed-doors meeting during City Council meeting. The city and Professional Firefighters Association Local Union 936 have been bargaining since April, and city staff did not feel like significant progress was possible anymore.
“Something had to give so we could get to a point where we have a fresh start and have an opportunity to get to a final contract and move forward and finish this,” Mayor Nelda Martinez said.
Firefighters have been working under the previous contract that expired this summer, and would continue doing so until a compromise was reached.
City Manager Ron Olson said that setup was unconstitutional because it required the city to pay “an unknown amount of money for an unknown amount of time.”
Because the collective bargaining agreement has been canceled, the city can now increase firefighters’ pay by 1.5 percent like it has for other employees — an expected move.
What happens next will depend on the union. City officials are offering a temporary collective bargaining agreement that would allow firefighters to keep their current health care plans while contract negotiations continue, but if that proposal is rejected, firefighters would see their health care plans change to the standard city employee plan.
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