Naples, firefighters headed to court over unfair labor practices

Lt. Adam Nadelman of the City of Naples Fire department, right, rappels down the side of a wall from a second story window at the old Naples Daily News building on Central Avenue in Naples on May 12, 2010 while another descends on a ladder. The fire department was granted access to the old building for fire training drills before the facility is demolished. 'It's a once in a career opportunity to get a building like this, that we can do almost anything we want in it,' City of Naples fire chief Steve McInerny said. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN // Buy this photo

Lt. Adam Nadelman of the City of Naples Fire department, right, rappels down the side of a wall from a second story window at the old Naples Daily News building on Central Avenue in Naples on May 12, 2010 while another descends on a ladder. The fire department was granted access to the old building for fire training drills before the facility is demolished. "It's a once in a career opportunity to get a building like this, that we can do almost anything we want in it," City of Naples fire chief Steve McInerny said. Greg Kahn/Staff

The city of Naples and the firefighters union are headed to court weeks after contract negotiations between the parties ended.

Negotiations ended in the city’s favor in March, before a ruling had been finalized on two unfair labor practice claims filed during the course of negotiations.

Each party filed a claim with the state’s Public Employee Relations Commission this year. The city’s claim against the union was upheld, but the union’s claim against the city was dismissed.

The city claimed the union engaged in unfair practices when it announced during a special magistrate hearing that it would accept the city’s prior pension proposal and that the magistrate did not need to rule on that provision of the contract. The city alleged the union did this to remove the possibility of the pension decision eventually coming before City Council.

The union filed its complaint when the city rejected its proposal to remove the pension item from the magistrate’s consideration.

Adam Nadelman, the union representative for Naples Local 2174, said the union appealed the commission’s decision and now the parties are headed to appellate court, though no date has been set.

“We feel very confident we will prevail in court,” Nadelman said.

Assistant City Manager Roger Reinke remains resolute as well.

“The final order of the Public Employees Relations Commission confirmed the finding that the Naples Firefighters’ Union failed to bargain in good faith and committed an unfair labor practice,” Reinke wrote in an email. “The contract article at issue in this case involved retirement benefits and the City’s commitment to pension reform. The City is confident that the order of the Commission will be upheld on appeal.”

Negotiations began June 2011 and the parties declared impasse in January 2012.

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

Negotiations ended in favor of the city by council vote. The city rejected a ruling by a special magistrate for a compromise on the two sections of the contract at issue after the parties reached impasse.

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