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Fire Negotiations

Updated April 4, 2014

 

THE SUNSHINE LIST

The Public Sector Salary Disclosures Act, 1996 requires the City to disclose annually the amount of salary and benefits (which includes acting pay, overtime, retroactive payments settlements, vacation and taxable benefits such as life insurance, parking and vehicle allowance) paid to employees that together amount to $100,000 or more.  This filing is sometimes referred to as the "Sunshine List".  

Of the 356 City employees reported to have earned $100,000 or more for 2013, 239 are members of the London Professional Fire Fighters Association (LPFFA), most of whom are firefighters.

Through the media, the Association says the number of LPFFA members on the Sunshine List is due to lower staffing levels resulting in increased overtime.  The City is not disputing that a number of firefighters exceeded the threshold of $100,000 because of overtime.  However, not all of the overtime can be directly attributable to staffing levels or is the sole reason so many LPFFA members' salaries exceeded $100,000 in 2013.

It is important to understand that if the Interest Arbitration Board awards the LPFFA’s monetary proposals in their entirety the City estimates for 2014 that approximately 80% of LPFFA members will exceed the $100,000 threshold based on their salary alone.  If you then added the "historical" amounts paid in overtime opportunities, then in 2014 the number of individuals in the fire department earning over $100,000 could reach 90%.

Pie graph showing that 80% of all fire fighters earn 100,000 or more.

 

Updated November 5, 2013

 

The Corporation of the City of London (the “Corporation”) is committed to providing quality services to our residents and businesses in a fiscally responsible manner that recognizes the challenges facing our community.  This includes all services, from fire to social services, to housing.

The Corporation and the London Professional Fire Fighters' Association (LPFFA), which represents 410 of the Corporation's 416 employees who work within the Fire Department, are currently at interest arbitration to renew the collective agreement.  The Corporation’s main issues include a focus on London taxpayers' “ability to pay” for the LPFFA’s proposals, the rising and unsustainable costs of emergency services, and whether police and fire should be paid the same.

The LPFFA’s proposals include salary and other monetary increases that continue to exceed inflation.  The chart below shows the combined cost of these proposals which is estimated at approximately $14 million over the next four years.  In addition, there are a number of proposed benefit increases, as well as proposed operational changes that will drive up the fire department budget beyond the $14 million noted. 

 

Summary of Costs Related to Association's Monetary Proposals

  Approximate Cost $M  
Proposal 2011 2012 2013 2014

Cumulative

Total Cost

General Salary Increases $1.4 million $2.4 million $3.8 million $5.4 million $12.9 million

Experience Pay Non-firefighters

$140,000 $143,000 $146,000 $150,000 $579,000

Mechanical Technician Salary Increase

$20,300 $20,800 $21,200 $21,800 $84,100
Communication Operator Earnings Increase $120,300 $122,900 $125,500 $128,700 $497,400
Total Cumulative Costs: $14,060,500

 


 

Updated October 23, 2013

 

WHAT IS $0.80/DAY?

There has been some talk of fire services costing $0.80 per day.  This was the amount based on the 2013 tabled budget.  In fact, according to the 2013 approved budget, fire services cost the average household $0.74/day, or $270.00/household/year, noting that the amount does not include any increases that may result from the interest arbitration.

This makes fire services the second most costly city service, next to police services.  The total cost of fire services represents more than the next two services (roadways and parks, social and community support services) combined. 

Historically the fire services cost per day/household has risen from $0.50/day in 2003 to $0.70/day in 2008 and $0.72/day in 2010, which represents a 44% increase. 

Approximately 95% to 96% of the fire operating budget is allotted to labour costs determined by the collective agreement.   If the LPFFA salary submission is successful in interest arbitration it will result in, when compounded, a salary increase of 11.64% over the four years of the contract.

Graphic Illustrating the cost of services provided by City of London

 


 

 Updated October 2, 2013

On October 28, 2013, which is the next scheduled hearing date in the interest arbitration with the Corporation of the City of London and the London Professional Fire Fighters' Association (LPFFA), the parties will have an opportunity to respond to each other's submissions that were presented during the first three days of hearings. 

On our last hearing date, the Corporation’s negotiating team finished the presentation of their submissions. The Corporation's submissions focus on London taxpayers' “ability to pay”, the rising and unsustainable costs of emergency services within the municipality and challenging police-fire salary comparability.  The Corporation believes the comparator group for considering what salary increases fire employees should receive should go beyond police to other public and private sector groups. 

Recently in both the media and public there has been discussion of firefighter earnings.  Historically our fire employees have received economic increases that have outpaced inflation.  The City believes that firefighters deserve fair compensation; however, Londoners cannot continue to sustain these historically high increases.

If the LPFFA is successful in achieving their requested compensation increases, by 2014 a 1st Class Firefighter with 23 years of service would receive a base salary of $90,219, plus lieu day pay of $7,733 plus experience pay of 9% ($8,116) for a total annual compensation package of $106,768 - this amount does not include other forms of compensation they receive such as pension contributions, acting pay or overtime.    Additionally, while firefighters and some others in the bargaining unit currently are eligible to receive experience pay on top of their base salaries, the Association has proposed that everyone in the bargaining unit, including clerks, stores personnel, communication operators, public educators and mechanics, receive experience pay as follows: 3% after 8 years of service, 6% after 17 years of service and 9% after 23 years of service.

The LPFFA’s salary submission in the interest arbitration, when compounded, results in an 11.64% increase over four years.  If the requested monetary increases were awarded in their entirety by 2014 it is estimated that over 80% of London fire department employees would be earning over $100,000 per year.

The chart below illustrates the rate at which a City of London 1st Class Firefighter’s earnings grew from 1990 until 2014 in comparison to the CPI and London’s median family income.  The 2011 through 2014 firefighter earnings are based on the LPFFA's monetary requests in this current interest arbitration.

Graph demonstrating the 1st class firefighter with less than 8 years of experience annual salary since 1990

  • From 1990-2010 a 1st class firefighter’s total annual earnings (without experience pay) increased by 82.5%, while median family income grew by 19.4%
  • Based on the LPFFA’s monetary proposal, from 1990-2012 a 1st class firefighter’s total annual earnings (without experience pay) would increase by 24.6% over the rate of inflation

Graph demonstrating the 1st class firefighter with 23 years of experience annual salary since 1990

 

  • From 1990 – 2010, a 1st class firefighter’s total annual earnings increased by 95.2%, while median family income grew by 19.4%
  • Based on the LPFFA’s monetary proposal, from 1990 – 2012 a 1st class firefighter’s total annual earnings would increase by 35.8% over the rate of inflation

 


 

Updated August 30, 2013

 

On August 26, 2013, the Corporation of the City of London presented its submissions in the interest arbitration between the Corporation and the London Professional Fire Fighters’ Association (LPFFA), which represents the majority of the Corporation’s employees who work within the Fire Department.

Interest arbitration is the mechanism to renew a collective agreement for those parties, such as fire fighters, who do not have the right to strike. It is expected that this interest arbitration, chaired by Mary Ellen Cummings, will take place through the balance of 2013 and well into the Spring and Summer of 2014.

The interest arbitration process gives both parties the opportunity to provide information to substantiate their proposals. The Corporation, through its submissions, will be focusing on the Corporation’s and London taxpayers' “ability to pay”, the rising and unsustainable costs of emergency services within the municipality and the issue of comparability. The Corporation, will present evidence and experts that will directly address the issues of “ability to pay” and comparability.

In addition, the Corporation presented submissions regarding the contracting out provisions of the collective agreement proposing to give the Corporation the ability to consider contracting out services such as communications, plans examination and building inspection functions under the Building Code Act as well as mechanical repair. The safety of our residents is our number one priority and any decision made on outsourcing will keep safety our number one priority.

One of the key ways for the Corporation to move toward more sustainable costs is for the Corporation to have the ability to contract out. One of the LPFFA ‘s proposals is a further increase to Communication Operator/Dispatcher salaries which would result in paying them at 104.5% of a 1st Class Fire Fighter. Across Ontario and Canada many police and fire services either combine the communications function within the municipality or outsource the function to another emergency service or reputable private sector provider. The Corporation in its submissions is looking for the opportunity to consider outsourcing this service to interested, qualified providers who meet or exceed the same industry standards currently used by the Corporation.

The Corporation has a number of vehicle repair and maintenance facilities that are capable of providing more affordable mechanical services and in terms of the plans examination and building inspection functions under the Building Code Act, there are already employees within the Corporation who are CUPE members that can provide these services for less.

Our next interest arbitration hearing will be held September 9, 2013.

 


 

Updated August 22, 2013

August 22, 2013 marks the first day of interest arbitration between The Corporation of the City of London and the London Professional Fire Fighters' Association (LPFFA), which represents the majority of the Corporation's employees who work within the Fire Department. We value and respect the work of all our employees including our fire employees.

Historically, our fire employees have received economic increases that have outpaced inflation and those received by other Corporation employee groups. The Corporation believes that Londoners cannot continue to sustain these increases. The contract needs to balance the interests of taxpayers and our fire employees while reflecting the current state of the economy. Collective agreement enhancements cannot continue without jeopardizing the other important services the Corporation provides to Londoners.

At the most recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference, a delegation from the Corporation met with the Minister of Labour to discuss our fire interest arbitration and much needed changes to the province's interest arbitration system. According to Mayor Joe Fontana:

"I am very encouraged by our meeting with the Minister of Labour. It is clear to me and other municipal leaders that the Minister is listening and looking at the interest arbitration system and much needed changes that can be made to improve the system."
 

For further information on the Corporation and the LPFFA's interest arbitration, or to learn more about interest arbitration in Ontario, please see the links below:

 


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