Penticton signs new contract with firefighters

New collective agreement said to signal a new positive relationship between Penticton and firefighters.

Both the City of Penticton and the International Association of Fire Firefighters Local 1399 say the successful negotiation of a collective agreement signals a new, positive relationship between both parties.

“Penticton Fire Fighters are pleased with the change of relationship we have with new city and fire department management. The result of that relationship is a collective agreement that reflects a new direction for our fire department operations making effective and efficient response a priority. Our members can now put the past behind us and focus on the future,” said Mike Richards, fire inspector and union representative.

In 2015, firefighters and the city had to go to binding arbitration after contract negotiations lagged on for five years.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said the current negotiations were positive and productive, recognizing Fire Chief Larry Watkinson’s past experience.

“We really appreciated Fire Chief Watkinson’s leadership with the negotiations to find cost savings without compromising service standards.  This is positive news for the city and we are happy with the outcome,” said  Jakubeit.

The agreement will see the city’s firefighters receive a wage increase of 2.5 per cent per year and was reached after only three days of discussions and without mediation or arbitration. It is considered a success by all parties involved.

“I think both parties came to the table willing to find solutions which speaks to an improved respect among parties. Council felt the deal was fair, realistic, and helped to mend animosities that had existed in the past,” said Jakubeit.

The arbitrated agreement covered the period from Jan. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2015. The new agreement is effective from Jan. 1, 2016 through to the end of 2019.