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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Georgia city in dispute with Firefighters, Teamsters

Labor disputes between the City of Marietta and its workers remain unresolved after City Council rejected one fact-finding report and a union nixed another, leaving a strike as a possibility. During a special session Thursday at Lookout Park, council rejected a fact-finding report compiled by a third-party arbitrator in negotiations with International Association of Firefighters Local 442, which represents the city's 33 firefighters.

At the same special session, council accepted 6-0 a second fact-finding report aimed at ending a labor dispute between the city and Teamsters Local 637, which includes workers in the city’s water, sewer and streets departments. However, union members voted the report down Thursday.

“It was overwhelmingly rejected,” said John Sheriff, secretary-treasurer for the Teamsters.

Had the union accepted the report, a new contract would have resulted.

Sheriff declined to discuss the unresolved issues.

The details of the reports were not discussed and are not public until the unions vote on them. The Times was not notified of the union’s vote until after the council meeting.

Council members declined to comment on the contracts, referring all questions to Mayor Michael Mullen. Negotiations are handled through his office.

Sheriff said the Teamsters will go back to the table with the city, but a refusal to negotiate or failure to reach an agreement could result in a strike, Sheriff said.

“The members have authorized me to give the 10-day strike notice at that point,” he said. “The members down there are very united in the goal of obtaining a fair contract.”

Meanwhile, the administration and the firefighters have been working to negotiate a new contract since January.

Council voted 6-0 against accepting the terms of the firefighters’ report. Councilwoman Kathy Shively, D-2nd Ward, was absent.

Mullen said there is still room for negotiation with the firefighters.

“If we can’t come to terms, each side will present its case and whatever is decided by this final arbitrator is what the final outcome will be,” he said.

Eric Moore, president of the firefighters local, could not be reached for comment Thursday evening. No other fire official contacted would comment on the labor issue.

Mullen could not be reached for further comment on the Teamsters negotiation Thursday night.