Metro-East News

East St. Louis, firefighters reach pact: no layoffs

East St. Louis firefighters on May 17, 2014, fight the fire that consumed the Broadway Market at 15th and Broadway in East St. Louis. Firefighters and the city reached an agreement that cuts their numbers by attrition.
East St. Louis firefighters on May 17, 2014, fight the fire that consumed the Broadway Market at 15th and Broadway in East St. Louis. Firefighters and the city reached an agreement that cuts their numbers by attrition. tvizer@bnd.com

The East St. Louis City Council and the union representing its firefighters have reached an agreement that allows the city to reduce the number of firefighters through attrition, but there won’t be any layoffs.

The cash-strapped city had been considering layoffs of firefighters.

The agreement was reached Thursday during a meeting of the council and union representatives.

The agreement allows the city to reduce the Fire Department’s staff from 50 to 43 through attrition. It also reduces the minimum daily staffing level in the department, from 12 firefighters on duty per day to nine.

Kevin Manso, secretary/treasurer for the local union, said firefighters agreed to the change in daily staffing level because it was seen by firefighters as a way to help the city.

“What we kind of agreed to was, ‘We’ll have less guys per day so you can manage your manpower better,’” Manso said.

The agreement is in effect until the firefighters reach a new contract with the city or if the parties remain in contract negotiations as of Oct. 21, 2016.

The firefighters’ current contract ends Dec. 31.

City Council members Robert Eastern, Latoya Greenwood and June Hamilton Dean voted in favor of the agreement.

Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks was not present.

Under the collective bargaining agreement that was reached between the firefighters union and the city in 2014 that runs through 2016, the city agreed that the number of full-time uniformed firefighters would not be less than 58 for the duration of the agreement. And under the CBA, the city also agreed to staff the department with a minimum of 12 full-time uniformed captains, lieutenants and firefighters.

“It was a lot of hard work. We understand the city’s position. We hope to be able to move forward into contract negotiations now that we got this settled. And we hope to end up with a better solution for both parties,“ Manso said.

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