Local 4600 of the
International Association of Firefighters, representing the career
firefighters of the Chesterton Fire Department, is seeking a
“meet-and-confer” with the Town Council.
refers to the contractual obligation of a public safety employer to meet
with the designated representative of a union local to discuss conditions of
The subject of this
particular meet-and-confer, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14: Local
4600’s concerns that adjustments made to the career firefighters’ work
schedules, made by Fire Chief John Jarka per the Fair Labor Standards Act,
will result in a 96-hour reduction of paid time for all 15 members of the
So Engineer and
Local 4600 President Steve Williams told the Town Council at its meeting
request: that at least a majority of council members attend the
meet-and-confer. “We feel strongly that a meeting with only one Town Council
member does not satisfy the Indiana Code,” Williams said. “Due to the severe
impact this issue will have on current and future firefighters of this town,
their families, and our ability to recruit and retain skilled firefighters
in the future, we again request a meet-and-confer with our employer, the
Town Council, in whole or at least in majority form.”
A majority of
council members at any meeting--including the one scheduled for
Friday--would constitute a quorum and would require under the Indiana Open
Door Act proper public notification at least 48 hours before the meeting
Members did note
that, in the past, all meet-and-confers were attended by a designated “team”
comprised of the council member who serves as liaison to the CFD--in this
case, Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th--the fire chief, and a town attorney.
“That’s how it’s always been done,” DeLaney remarked.
Member Jim Ton,
R-1st, wanted to know what specifically has changed, such that Local 4600
wants to meet with the whole council. Williams--who didn’t explain how
exactly firefighters would see a 96-hour reduction of paid time--offered to
speak to Ton personally. “Maybe it would be better for me to talk to you
after the meeting to explain it to you,” he said.
“I would be more
than happy to spend some time with you,” Ton offered, but he added that he
has complete confidence in DeLaney’s ability to discuss the issue with Local
4600, with the understanding that the council as a whole has taken the
local’s concerns under advisement. He suggested, accordingly, that Friday’s
meet-and-confer take place as scheduled. “I would rather see us move forward
and then go from there,” Ton said.
To that end,
members voted formally to appoint as their delegated team DeLaney, Jarka,
and a town attorney to be named later.
Vision, Life, and
In other business,
members voted unanimously to switch the municipal employees’ life and dental
coverage from the current carrier, Lincoln Financial Group, to the town’s
current vision provider, AXA, after Lincoln notified the town that its rates
for those coverages were going to increase by 110 percent due to high usage
of the plan.
Agency, the town’s contracted agent, has determined that the switch of life
and dental would save the town around $8,000. It would also, however,
disrupt around 10 percent of Chesterton employees who are currently seeing
dentists not in the AXA network.
voted unanimously to approve a number of additional appropriations,
following a public hearing at which no one spoke in favor of the measure or
In all cases, the
funding is available for the given budget line item but has not been
formally appropriated, Kuziela told the Chesterton Tribune after the
meeting. The additional appropriations include the following:
* General Fund:
$234,163.49 for personnel; $7,800 for services; $750 for supplies.
* Motor Vehicle
Highway: $99,990.44 for personnel; $89,200 from Supplies to Services.
* Local Roads &
Streets: $57,650 for services.
Capital Develop-ment: $158,000 for capital outlays (emergency vehicles).
Kuziela did tell
the council that the additional appropriations were lower than she had
anticipated in preparing her 2018 budget, which means “we are going to have
more money left over this year that we can use next year.”
Kuziela also told
the council that, when informed of the lower than anticipated additional
appropriations, the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance restored
$135,899 which it had originally cut from the town’s 2019 General Fund.
DLGF has not yet
released the town’s final budget order yet, which as Kuziela noted “sets our
budget in stone.”