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Talks on scheduling resume between city, firefighters

LOCKPORT -- A daily format of three eight-hour shifts was not part of the city's opening offer to its firefighters' union as talks began Thursday on a new agreement to replace one expiring Dec. 31.

Thomas Lupo, president of the Lockport Professional Firefighters Association, wouldn't say what the city did offer as a new schedule for firefighters.

"They never showed us three eight-hour shifts. I think that was a campaign position," Lupo said.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker was tight-lipped about what happened at the bargaining table, but he said he is expecting a union counterproposal when talks reconvene Jan. 5.

Thursday's 2 1/2 -hour session in City Hall took place in the presence of Chuck Leonard, a mediator from the state Public Employment Relations Board. Tucker said Leonard will be back for the next meeting.

The negotiations are an effort to replace a side agreement that expires Dec. 31 and sets at 10 the minimum number of firefighters to be working on each shift. The regular union contract, whose provisions would regain force Jan. 1, calls for a minimum of nine men per shift.

The department is split into four platoons, three with 12 members and one with 13. Each firefighter gets scheduled days off and a vacation and sick time allotment. The supplemental agreement limits to three the number of firefighters per platoon who are allowed to be scheduled for time off on any given work day. That number would rise to four on Jan. 1, under terms of the regular contract.

"The last agreement they gave us didn't work out well for either party," Lupo said. He said the union anticipated that the Common Council would allow the hiring of more firefighters, but that didn't happen. The department's active strength is nine men below what it was three years ago.

Tucker said the city might be willing to extend the supplemental agreement temporarily beyond Jan. 1 while talks continue, but has no interest in a longer extension.


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