Labor negotiations between Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department (LPFD) and the local firefighters union have reached impasse, according to a joint statement Tuesday from the cities of Livermore and Pleasanton, which fund and oversee the department.
Officials said Fire Fighters Local 1974 -- which represents LPFD's firefighters and fire inspectors -- formally declared impasse on March 1, following eight months of negotiations. The decision marked the union's rejection of LPFD's offer of a 12.5% pay increase over the 3.5-year contract for firefighter-paramedics, a 10.5% general wage increase for everyone else, plus improved benefits and working conditions, according to the cities.
"A primary sticking point has been the Union's rejection of a proposed drug testing policy -- a proposal made after the Union earlier objected to the department drug testing a fire captain, who ended up testing positive for cocaine while on duty," said Art Hartinger, the chief negotiator retained by the department in these negotiations.
"This is a huge safety priority for both cities, and we are urging the Union to partner with us to implement a meaningful, clear, and impactful Policy," Hartinger added.
Union president Joe McThorn had not responded to a request for comment as of early Tuesday evening.
The union's previous contract term was from July 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2021. The provisions under the latest contract remain the same until a new agreement is reached, city officials said.
"We are committed to ensure that our firefighters remain well equipped, well trained, and well paid. We think our proposal meets these objectives," Livermore City Manager Marc Roberts said in Tuesday's joint statement.
An LPFD-created webpage on the labor negotiations includes a copy of the union's initial statement of impasse, which details their position on various issues. In the statement of impasse, representatives of the union said they had presented several proposals over the course of 30 days "in a good faith effort to narrow the unresolved issues," including "multiple counter proposals seeking to develop an appropriate reasonable suspicion and post-vehicle accident substance testing policy."
The statement argues that despite their efforts to come to common ground, LPFD has remained "unwilling to acknowledge the Union's legitimate concerns, and the Department has not responded meaningfully to the Union's economic proposals."
One of the union's concerns described in the statement is the elimination of rank-for-rank overtime for short-term day-to-day vacancies -- a benefit that has been in place for 25 years.
In a letter responding to the union's declaration of impasse, Hartinger said that the parties held a meeting last Friday (March 18) to try to resolve their outstanding differences. While some progress was made as a result of the meeting, a handful of issues -- including the drug testing policy -- remain in dispute.
The LPFD webpage with updates on the ongoing labor negotiations lists staffing for efficiency and wages as issues that have not been agreed upon, in addition to the matter of drug testing.
The cities have not confirmed additional details about the allegations of an unnamed LPFD fire captain testing positive for cocaine on duty.
More information and the labor negotiations updates can be found here.