In 2015, Lafayette voted 68.6 percent in favor of Issue 2K giving their firefighters the right to collectively bargain. The city attorney drafted an industry standard ordinance. It outlined what the firefighters could bargain for. The firefighters and the City Council approved this ordinance.
In 2016, City Administrator Klaphake hired an outside attorney to draft a new ordinance. Why? “The new ordinance,” says Doug Hurst, president of Lafayette’s Firefighters’ Local 4620, “was drafted with the ill intent to gut our collective bargaining and to undermine the intent of the citizens of Lafayette and the Council.”
There is a great difference between the two ordinances (July 7, 2015 and March 15, 2016). Hurst says, “The 2015 ordinance outlines everything we are allowed to bargain, and the ordinance from March of 2016 eliminated this completely.” Section 86-3 was replaced with Section 86-4 “Management Rights,” which goes so far as to explicitly state the firefighters aren’t even allowed to form “an employee suggestion committee.” It also narrowed the “Fringe Benefits,” one of the most important items Lafayette can utilize to recruit and retain the best candidates.
City Administrator Klaphake’s actions exemplify why firefighters need a wide-ranging voice in negotiations. His 2016 ordinance is a deceitful move, which undermines the firefighters’ rights to fair representation and the public’s will. Union Vice-President Chris Wetzel says Lafayette has “some of the busiest fire stations in the county,” and Lafayette firefighters’ pay is “lower than most surrounding departments.”
From two full-time firefighters in 2005 to 18 full-time firefighters now, Lafayette FD needs a balanced structure for collective bargaining. We depend on them to protect our lives and property, and they deserve our support. Please contact your City Councilors immediately and ask them to replace this ordinance with one more in line with what Lafayette citizens voted for.
John C. Lamb