On October 26th, firefighters in Allen Park Michigan filed a lawsuit against the City of Allen Park alleging the city has not honored the labor contract between the City of Allen Park and the Allen Park Professional Firefighters Association (IAFF Local 1410). The 2013-2016 collective bargaining agreement between the city and firefighters contained a 2.5% wage increase due in 2016. The firefighters claim the city failed to honor this promised increase.
Like many cities and towns in Michigan the City of Allen Park faced significant financial problems around 2011. In fact, the city even threatened to lay-off the entire fire department in an effort to close a $600,000 budget shortfall that year. While firefighter overtime was not the sole source of the city’s financial problems, the city cited an additional $150,000 in firefighter overtime as contributing to the budget shortfall that year. The state of Michigan eventually stepped in and appointed an emergency manager. New contracts with the police and fire department were reached with an eye towards structural change and long-term sustainability.
The new fire contract which was implemented in July of 2013, called for an across the board salary reduction from 10 to 17 percent of base pay for firefighters in addition to significant changes in pension and benefit structure. The combination of base pay and benefit changes resulted in a reduction of between 25 to 30 percent of total compensation for each firefighter. Additionally, in an effort to reduce fire department overtime the minimum staffing provision was eliminated from the contract and the city was allowed to employ part-time firefighters to fill some vacancies.
Fast forward to 2017
The city was released from state oversight in January of 2017. According to Nick Khouri, Michigan Treasurer, the “city has made financial and operational progress” and Allen Park Mayor William Matakas stated the city was “on a ‘path of financial success.’” Now city firefighters claim the city has failed to provide the promised 2.5% wage increase last year. The increase was negotiated as part of the 2013-2016 contract. Firefighters further claim, other city employees, including police officers received similar promised wage increases in 2016.
The complaint the firefighters filed in court is not yet available but here are several local news stories with more information on the back and forth between the firefighters and the city over the past several years.