A decision by a City committee is sure to fan the flames with members of the London Professional Fire Fighters Association.
On Tuesday, members of the Corporate Services Committee voted down a request from Jason Timlick, the President of the LPFFA, to speak directly to them about the ongoing six-year labour dispute with the City.
Timlick requested delegation status at the meeting, but ultimately the motion was defeated on a 3-3 split vote.
Councillors, Virginia Ridley, Tanya Park, and Josh Morgan supported the delegation request.
“I don’t want to shut down a group, or an individual, or an individual representing a group who says ‘hey city council, hey committee, I have something that I want you to hear,” argued Ridley.
Councillor Mo Salih isn’t a member of the committee, so he couldn’t vote, but he attended the meeting to speak out in favour of the request.
Councillors Jesse Helmer, Harold Usher, and acting Mayor Paul Hubert voted against the request.
“We have a bargaining team for this purpose,” said Helmer. “I really understand where it’s coming from but I’m not going to support it. I think it would accomplish nothing. I think it would be really frustrating for everybody.”
As an ex-officio member of all committees, Hubert took part in the vote while serving as acting Mayor, even though he doesn’t normally sit on the Corporate Services Committee.
“If you have an issue with our administration, you need to talk to your steward, your union representative, and flow through the chain of command that way,” said Hubert.
The two sides in the dispute are currently in interest arbitration, and it’s possible a deal may not be reached until 2019.
The contract battle between firefighters and the City has dragged on for six years and is believed to be the longest in Canadian history.
City hall is pushing for a number of concessions, including an end to the policy of pay parity for firefighters with London police.
Below is the full release issued late Monday by the Professional Fire Fighters Association:
The London Professional Fire Fighters Association (LPFFA) President, Jason Timlick recently made an application for delegate status to the City of London Council’s Corporate Services Committee. A majority vote was not achieved. Although the vote was a tie, the motion was defeated and as a result an opportunity to hear from Fire Fighters was denied.
In the interest of transparency, this request to be heard was made in an effort to be certain City Council have all of the facts they require to make an informed decision when it comes to the Fire Fighter’s current labour dispute. From the debate and discussion in the Committee meeting, it was pointed out that allowing the Fire Fighters to speak before Council would in no way circumvent normal labour relations practices. The current ongoing costly Arbitration process continues uninterrupted, and would be unimpeded by granting the LPFFA President a few minutes to present his perspective for Council’s consideration.
The LPFFA acknowledges and appreciates the support of Councillors Virginia Ridley, Josh Morgan, Tanya Park, and Mo Salih. Councillor Salih, although not part of the Corporate Services Committee and therefore unable to vote, was in attendance and exercised his right to speak in favour of the motion to allow LPFFA President Timlick delegate status. Councillors Harold Usher, Jesse Helmer, and Paul Hubert did not support the motion. In fact, Councillor Jesse Helmer suggested that hearing from the LPFFA President would “accomplish nothing” and “be a waste of everyone’s time”. Interestingly, Councillor Paul Hubert does not sit on the Corporate Services Committee. Hubert attended the meeting as a representative of the Office of the Mayor. By right of this Office, Hubert was able to vote against the motion. His vote resulted in the tie, and was therefore the deciding and defeating vote.
The LPFFA bargaining committee has made an offer to settle this dispute, to save taxpayers millions of dollars, and to bring to a close 7 years of Arbitration with a fair and reasonable resolution (yet another request that has been rejected). LPFFA President Timlick simply asked for the privilege to present all of the information to Council as it pertains to this settlement offer, so that they might know and understand it completely, and make an informed decision on behalf of the taxpayers of London. It is unfortunate that City Council has decided to pass on an opportunity to gain as much knowledge as possible, and to effectively silence Fire Fighters in their chambers.