March 6, 2000
After three years of negotiations, the City of Bothell's union firefighters will receive their long-awaited pay increase.
According to Jim Thompson, the city manager, each of the 46 union firefighters will receive a "retroactive check" compensating them for the past three years working for the City of Bothell. The compensation awards are 5 percent for the year of 1998, 4 percent for 199,9 and 4 percent for 2000, respectively. Overall, firefighters will be awarded a 13 percent base wage increase for their future work.
The union's fire inspectors (Fire Prevention Bureau) have been awarded a 5 percent increase, in addition to their 13 percent base wage increase. "The union's request was that the inspectors be paid a 10 percent premium," Brisco said. Alan Krebs, the neutral arbitrator, ruled that only 5 percent was necessary.
Terry Brisco, the Administrative Services Director, is the city's lead negotiator with the fire department. She worked with the City Council, attended the negotiations, and witnessed the arbitration hearings which were settled on Feb 18. "The compensation matters were acted upon, the parties have no choice," Brisco said.
In a press release issued by the city of Bothell, Brisco stated, "It was unfortunate that we could not resolve the issue without arbitration, but the neutral arbitrator's award gives us a good starting point for the next round of contract negotiations."
The conflict initially began in 1997, when the firefighters couldn't come to an agreement on several issues, namely wage increases. In 1998, they went to a moderator, and eventually they filed for Unfair Legal Practices (ULP), but still couldn't resolve the issue.
Firefighters and police do not have the right to strike in Washington state; their problems must be resolved by a neutral arbitrator, according to Krebs, whose 50-page arbitration award is binding.