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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Verner, fire union reached deal

New contract must be confirmed by City Council

Former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and the leadership of the city’s fire union tentatively agreed to a new contract in the final days of Verner’s term.

But the deal still needs approval of the union’s membership and the new City Council. Mayor David Condon will be able to make a recommendation to the council, but he can’t otherwise stop the deal.

Former City Administrator Ted Danek confirmed Friday that a deal was struck, but said that under an agreement with the union, details, including the length of the contract, can’t be released until members ratify it and it’s ready for City Council consideration.

Union President Mark Vietzke said the deal was reached on Dec. 29. Negotiations started on April 1. He said union members were presented the contract this week and voting will close next week.

Last month, Condon and some incoming City Council members protested Verner’s decision and the City Council’s approval of a three-year contract extension for the city’s largest union, Local 270 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Even though members of that union will get no cost-of-living increases in 2013, 2014 and 2015, Condon noted that Local 270’s contract wasn’t set to expire until the end of 2012 and said it allowed the union to forgo working with the newly elected mayor.

The firefighters’ contract, however, expired on Dec. 31 and the newly elected City Council members will get a say on the deal reached by the Verner administration.

“This council and this mayor get to see it and decide it,” Vietzke said.

Condon will be able to give his opinion on the contract, but he won’t be able to prevent council consideration of it or to veto it, because the executive branch – Verner – has already approved it, said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist. Condon currently is reviewing the proposed contract, but under the terms of the agreement must wait to talk about it until it’s ready to be considered by the City Council, Feist said.

Danek said that if the contract is ratified by the union, he expects it would be considered by the City Council in late January or early February.

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