Sarnia firefighter contract settled through arbitration

The Sarnia Fire Rescue Service conducts live fire training at 2172 London Line. June 9, 2017 (Photo by Melanie Irwin)

A three-year contract dispute between the City of Sarnia and the Sarnia Professional Firefighters Association (SPFFA) has ended with an interest arbitration award.

The previous contract expired on December 31, 2016, and negotiations between the parties failed to reach a settlement.

SPFFA President Ken Dwinnell said they’re happy to be at the end of the process.

“We think the arbitrator was fair, both to our members and to the taxpayer,” said Dwinnell. “We would like to get this done at the negotiation table next time around and not have it be as lengthy a process as it was this time.”

The arbitration award, retroactive to January 1, 2017, expires December 31, 2019.

It includes wage increases of 1.5 per cent in each of the three years, a new pregnancy/parental leave provision and benefit enhancements in a number of areas, with reductions in others.

In anticipation of the award, the city allocated salary increases in the budget over the past three years to cover the retroactive wage increases.

“We’ve actually filed today to start the negotiation process again for 2020, and we’re hopeful that we’re in an environment that we can sit down at the table and work together towards a collective agreement,” said Dwinnell.

The City of Sarnia employs 123 firefighters at five stations.