KOKOMO, Ind. – Contract disputes between the City of Kokomo and its fire department continued Sunday with no final outcome. The firefighters union voted down what Mayor Greg Goodnight said was the city’s final offer.
Nearly a year after contract negotiations began in the spring of 2017, Kokomo firefighters are now working without a contract and it doesn’t appear likely that a new one will be agreed upon anytime soon.
“The big sticking point in this contract with us and the City of Kokomo is that we are asking for insurance both for active and retirees,” said Chris Frazier, the president of the Kokomo Firefighters Union.
The offer made by the city was a three-year contract, which guaranteed a 2 percent raise each year and had a no layoff clause.
“I have an obligation to Kokomo’s taxpayers,” said Mayor Goodnight. “Their last demand was a 5 percent raise each year for three years and that’s just not reasonable.”
Frazier says the city rejected the union’s counter offer, which was to forgo any pay increase in exchange for current and retired firefighters getting insurance benefits on par with that of the city police department.
Despite not having a contract, firefighters are still working, classified as city employees. The mayor says neither their pay nor their working hours have changed.
“Regardless of whether or not we have a contract, we will not go on strike because we believe our job is to protect this community,” said Frazier.
Despite the contract dispute, there will not be any interruption in fire response.
Frazier said the union planned to take its concerns to the city council at its meeting on Monday.