Town of Ocean City reaches agreement with Fire Department
OCEAN CITY, Md. – Ocean City’s fire fighters can breathe a sigh of relief because they finally reached an agreement with the town in regards to their three year contract.
The agreement was reached on Thursday, which was two weeks past the initial deadline. We’re told it was worth the wait because both sides are fairly happy with the outcome.
The ultimate goal was to create a contract that would make more people want to work for the Fire Department, which would ultimately ensure the safety of Ocean City’s visitors and residents.
Ryan Whittington, the President of the IAFF 4269 said, “To help stabilize our staffing is really essentially why this had to be done.”
Ocean City’s Mayor Rick Meehan said, “I think we were able to negotiate a contract that’s fair for the town that’s certainly fair for our employees and will allow us to continue a professional relationship with those employees for the next three years.”
We’re told the possibility of going to binding interest arbitration played a key role in the success of this agreement.
Whittington said, “The firefighters, as we were given [binding interest arbitration], we realized we do want to come to an agreement on our own and it put both sides in that area that we knew we have to come to an agreement. It really moved both sides to get there and that was great.”
As part of the new contract agreement, wages will be going up and shifts will be changing.
Whittington said, “So through the collective bargaining process, we were able to reach a schedule change that we feel is an improvement to where we were. At the basis of that are 24 hour shifts followed by some additional 12 hour shifts.”
We’re told fire fighters would ultimately like to revert back to their old shift, which was working 24 hours on with 72 hours off, but they say this is a fair solution in the meantime.
Whittington said, “So we’ve really stabilized our scheduling and we hope this is something that’s going to work for our firefighter paramedics and that will also benefit our citizens.”
Both parties say, they just look forward to serving the Ocean City community for years to come.
Mayor Meehan said, “Our goal, and I know their goal, is to provide the service to the community and I think working together we’re going to be able to continue to do that that’s what we’re most proud of.”
This contract has not yet been signed so as of right now, it’s just a verbal agreement. It’s expected to be signed sometime in the next two weeks.
The contract will go into effect on July 1st, 2019.
The schedule changes, however, will go into effect a bit earlier on April 29th. That way the fire fighters won’t have to change schedules in the middle of the summer.