Naples officials, firefighters continue contract negotiations after magistrate ruling

Lexey Swall/Staff
City of Naples Firefighter Mike Moore watches as fellow firefighters place a clamp on a pipe to stop a simulated gas leak during training for emergency response to natural gas leaks on Tuesday at the Fire-Rescue Training Center on Tenth Street N. in Naples. The training was provided by TECO Peoples Gas to give the firefighters practical, hands-on training to understand the properties and characteristics of natural gas and how to deal with in-field emergencies.

Photo by LEXEY SWALL // Buy this photo

Lexey Swall/Staff City of Naples Firefighter Mike Moore watches as fellow firefighters place a clamp on a pipe to stop a simulated gas leak during training for emergency response to natural gas leaks on Tuesday at the Fire-Rescue Training Center on Tenth Street N. in Naples. The training was provided by TECO Peoples Gas to give the firefighters practical, hands-on training to understand the properties and characteristics of natural gas and how to deal with in-field emergencies.

— Naples city officials and firefighter union members are still willing to consider a voluntary contract settlement following a recent magistrate's recommendation, which aims to resolve the year-long impasse between the parties.

Assistant City Manager Roger Reinke, who oversees labor relations, said the 36-page ruling from Special Magistrate James Mastriani, with the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission, is a recommendation and does not need to be agreed to by either party.

Each party has 20 days from the time of the ruling — it was released Jan. 3 — to reject the recommendation. If neither rejects it, the union will vote on these terms in a contract, Reinke said. If either rejects it, Naples City Council will make a final judgement in a public hearing.

"We're reviewing that and trying to decide the best course of action," Reinke said.

Lt. Adam Nadelman, head of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2174, said he's waiting on word from city staff about meeting to reach their own agreement.

"We agree with some and we disagree with others," Nadelman said of the magistrate's recommendations. "There's nothing for the union to do. It's all up to (the city.)"

The two sides have disagreed on two sections of the contract involving pensions and some aspects of a safety and health provision regarding regular physical exams.

The city said it already provides payment for employee physicals through health insurance and should not have to pay for additional screenings.The magistrate recommended new language to change the safety and health provision.

The magistrate's recommendation on pensions favored the city, which proposed a cut to benefits like all other city employees received, Reinke said.

A collective bargaining agreement between the two parties expired in September 2011. The parties declared impasse in January 2012.

The special hearing during which the magistrate heard arguments from both sides took place in August 2012.

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