The union representing the Prince Rupert fire fighters has filed a pay grievance against the City of Prince Rupert. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Firefighters argue pay grievance with City of Prince Rupert

Arbitrators turn the labour issue back to city management and the union representing firefighters

The union representing the Prince Rupert firefighters has taken the city to court over a pay grievance.

Both the City of Prince Rupert, which employs the firefighters, and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 559, intended to achieve wage parity with the Vancouver firefighters by 2015, but since then there has been a discrepancy in the calculation of retroactive pay.

“The arbitrators did not prescribe an amount, and the parties are encouraged to meet to discuss, and management is just preparing to do that,” City of Prince Rupert staff said in an email.

In the court document, the city argues that it overpaid the union, and that there is no retroactivity owed for the period 2012 – 2015. The city also argued that the grievance wasn’t filed in a timely manner and should be dismissed.

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The document also states that in January 2015, Corinne Bomben, the City of Prince Rupert’s chief financial officer, calculated “what she thought was the correct amount of retroactivity owed to Prince Rupert Fire Fighters” and then met with them to discuss the matter, but the union disagreed with her calculation.

Then on May 15, 2015, city manager, Bob Long, wrote the union, “stating that the city wanted the dispute over retroactive pay to be dealt with ‘expeditiously’. Thus, should the Union continue to dispute the Employer’s calculation they wanted the matter to be referred to a third party for resolution.”

The union filed the grievance on Sept. 17, 2015, stating the city had failed to “properly calculate and pay the correct amount of retroactive pay to each member for the years 2013 – 2014”.

The hearing was held on Aug. 22, where an arbitrator panel decided to return the issue back to the union and the city to reach an agreement. If they’re unsuccessful, the arbitrators suggested the two parties settle the matter through mediation.

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