There is strength in numbers.
That may have been the thinking behind a decision by the Lloydminster Fire Department (LFD) to join the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 5140 union.
The ratification vote announced by Mayor Gerald Aalbers last week was mostly due to outstanding health and safety issues according to IAFF 6th District vice president Michael Hurley.
Hurley also cited “Inconsistent response to emergency calls and the employer’s unwillingness to respond to their concerns as employees” for unionization of employees.
“They felt like they had no vehicle for their concerns to be heard and dealt with so these are the issues that need to be resolved,” he said.
Aalbers said the City of Lloydminster was notified by the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) of an application for certification from the IAFF Local 5140 in April.
The ALRB approved that certification after dismissing the city’s objections as the employer and allowed the vote.
In its detailed decision issued on May 14 ALRB concluded, “We find the Board has jurisdiction to proceed with the union’s application for a bargaining unit of “All fire fighters” and this unit includes all of the firefighters working for the LFD.”
At the time of the application, the LFD had four full-time employees including a fire chief, the two deputy fire chiefs, and a training officer/captain with 31 firefighters in the rest of the department.
ALRB concluded that all of the ballots cast were to be included in the vote count.
“Council and administration look forward to working with the IAFF for the best interests of our city, our residents, and our employees,” said Aalbers.
“The city does not anticipate any disruption in the services and protection our fire department provides.”
As for what’s next, Hurley said the IAFF local has asked the city for dates to begin the negotiation process for a first collective agreement between the parties.