City ‘principle’ challenges good faith IAFF contract
Date posted: October 11, 2013
Re: Kinskey column, Press, Sept. 21
In a recent guest column by Mayor Dave Kinskey entitled, “City right to stand on principle regarding IAFF contract”, the mayor states that the firefighters came before the City Council to “demand a 5 percent increase for some of its members” and that the Council is correct to deny the “demand” based on “the principle (of) fairness for all of our employees, including the firefighters”.
What he doesn’t bother to mention is that this so-called “demand,” is based on a contract that the city negotiated, presumably in good faith, with the firefighters. What the city now wants to do, is break a negotiated contract it entered into with some of its employees. The last time the city tried to break a legally negotiated contract, it cost the taxpayers in the neighborhood of $40,000 to find out the contract is legally binding.
The mayor makes the point that city revenues are down and that salary costs have had to be reduced. He adds that if the city is “forced to hand out raises” (based on negotiated contracts) “we are doomed to the same course that has bankrupted other cities and states.”
He also makes the point that the state legislature “has restricted our supplemental funding, specifying that it is not to be used. . .to give pay raises.” The suggestion that the city or State of Wyoming is going to be “bankrupted” if it has to honor negotiated contracts is a real stretch, unless he means bankrupted “morally.”
It’s my understanding that the city has a “reserve” account with at least $1 million in it.
The last time I looked, the state has $1.6 billion in a Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account or “rainy day” account. Maybe the mayor’s time and energy would be better spent lobbying the state legislature to change its supplemental funding rules or cut loose of some of their “rainy day” funds to help struggling municipalities, rather than trying to convince the rest of us that it is okay to break a negotiated contract on the backs of dedicated employees to make ends meet.
There has recently been a lot of discussion nationally about the “full faith and credit” of the government. If the city has no hesitation to break a negotiated contract with its employees, how much “faith” should anyone else have in dealings with the City?