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City and Fire Union Relationship Becomes More Strained

November 6th, 2013 by WCBC Radio

If Tuesday morning's deposition is any indication- relations between the city of Cumberland and the local fire union are only getting more strained. The city is facing a lawsuit over contract negotiations with the union representing city firefighters- International Association of Firefighters, Local 1715. The suit was filed last month  in Allegany County Circuit Court  after the city and firefighters were unable to reach an agreement on several issues, with the most serious point of disagreement being the city’s desire to make a change in health care coverage for employees. Union President Ken McKenzie said that the city has flatly refused to negotiate and that led to the matter ending up in court. On Tuesday, union lawyers scheduled a morning deposition of city administrator Jeff Rhodes as part of the process- and the union took the unusual step to invite its members as well as the media. The large crowd of union members as well as a reporter for WCBC was not well received by attorney Jeff Blomquist representing the city. As soon as he entered the Frederick Street union hall , he informed union legal council Francis Collins that he had no intentions of proceeding unless non essential union members, and the media left the building. Collins countered by saying that he had researched the issue, and found no rule that restricted attendance.


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