Pandemic impact on city budget leads to possible renegotiation of firefighter contract

(KCWY)
Published: May. 13, 2020 at 11:56 PM CDT
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UPDATE (May 14,) -

Cheyenne's Firefighters Union is speaking up about the possibility of renegotiations. Wyoming News Now spoke to the union president, Theron "TJ" Haws. He says the Union wants to help figure things out.

"If we are able to do any part to help with the budget," Haws said, "We certainly will."

Haws says the Mayor had approached the union about the cutting of longevity pay, and says that Chief Hoggatt has proposed laying off three probationary firefighters. But Haws adds the union has not yet been invited to renegotiate. Haws says that there may be a better solution if both sides can sit down and talk.

"I think there are other opportunities and other ways to make those savings," he said, "To come together collectively to make the right choices for the citizens of Cheyenne. Cutting three probationary firefighters is not the way."

Meanwhile, City Council President Dr. Mark Rinne says the meeting on Wednesday was not to begin negotiations but to see if and how they might be done.

"It wasn't even a determination on our part of what negotiating positions would be," he told Wyoming News Now, "It was 'OK, we've heard feelers that they would like to sit down and talk to us; how do we do this?"

Dr. Rinne says that invitation may be coming soon, since the budget needs to be finished in June.

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The COVID-19 pandemic's impact of Cheyenne's budget is creating a brand new situation for some members of city government.

"This will be my 8th year on council” Dicky Shanor, City Council Vice-President said, “And we've never had a situation where we've asked to renegotiate."

The City of Cheyenne is looking at asking the Firefighters Union for the city to renegotiate the labor contract. This comes after Mayor Orr's budget cuts called for three firefighters to be cut along with longevity pay -- all of which was agreed on back in March. While the budget deviated from the contract agreement, Mayor Orr argued that the pandemic has meant the money that was agreed on is no longer available.

"It's not as simple as just putting something different in the budget.” Shanor told Wyoming News Now, “You actually have to engage in negotiations and see if you can arrive in some sort of agreement now with a different financial picture."

Councilman Shanor said that if negotiations begin and an agreement isn't made it's possible the situation could go to courts for arbitration. This is a developing situation and we will continue to report details as they become available.