Easton Firefighters Headed to Arbitration
Sunday, November, 6, 2016
Following the expiration of the June deadline to negotiate a new contract between the City of Easton and its firefighters, the matter will now go to arbitration. The two sides met in May to discuss issues not related to the contract and the firefighters’ union claim another meeting was supposed to occur but the city never followed up.
According to representatives from the union, the firefighters were always willing to meet and negotiate. The mayor of Easton, Sal Panto, Jr., has stated that he was waiting to find a replacement for the City Administrator who left at the beginning of the year, but that did not occur until mid-summer, after the negotiation deadline had passed. Panto stated, “I wasn’t going to negotiate the contract until we had a new city administrator. That didn’t come until after the June deadline, so we just agreed to go to arbitration.”
Both sides have agreed on a date in early 2017 to begin binding arbitration. Panto stated arbitration is likely to occur in February, but union officials believe the date is more likely to be January. Seventy thousand dollars has already been earmarked to fund the arbitration. Both will state their side and the arbitrator will determine a contract to which both sides must agree.
According to union officials, the firefighters will meet with the city to discuss issues unrelated to the contract, but if the city wishes to negotiate, the union will hear them out. The previous firefighter contract, created in 2012, was the first negotiated without arbitration in the city and included a two percent raise for 2013 and 2014, and a three percent raise for 2015 and 2016.