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Council OKs Accord With JFD Union

The Jamestown City Council approved an agreement with the Jamestown Professional Firefighters Association Local 137 to pay them a retroactive 2% pay increase in 2016 and 2017. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

One-third of the six years the Jamestown Professional Firefighters Association Local 137 has been working without a new contract has been resolved.

On Monday, the Jamestown City Council approved an agreement for the union members to receive retroactive 2% raises during both 2016 and 2017. The agreement also calls for members to increase their health care premium contributions by 2% for 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said he is pleased the city and the firefighters union have at least reached an agreement for some of the years where there has been no contract.

“It’s not easy to negotiate almost six years of potential wages,” Sundquist said.

Sundquist said, it’s his understanding, the union had already agreed to the personnel agreement prior to the council’s approval Monday.

Ryan Thompson, city comptroller, said the retro pay increase the firefighters union members would receive would be an estimated $917,000, which includes salaries, retirement cost and Social Security. He said some of the cost will be offset.

“We have accrued liability to cover retro active payments,” he said.

Earlier this month, Thompson told the council the city would be saving a significant amount of money because of accrued liability for the pay increase owed to Kendall Club Police Benevolent union members following the arbitration ruling. He said the city won’t be paying an estimated $1.1 million to the police officers union for the 2% increase in salary in 2016 and 2017. He added that because of the accrued liability, the 2% pay increase to police union employees will only impact the city $220,000 in both 2020 and 2021, for a total of $440,000.

Thompson didn’t announce Monday how much the city might save because of accrued liability for the agreement with the firefighters union.

Kim Ecklund, At-Large councilwoman, asked and was approved to be recused from the vote because her husband is a retired member of the firefighters union.

In a news release following the approval, Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Coon said, “I am very happy that the administration and the members of JPFFA Local 137 have successfully negotiated a fair and equitable contract. The fire department’s mission to deliver high-quality fire protection and emergency medical services to our residents is always our top priority. I’m optimistic that further negotiations will yield a fair settlement for the other years of the agreement.”

JPFFA President Shawn Shilling said about the contract, “I am thrilled that our negotiation team has won hard-fought retroactive raises for our members. I appreciate that the city put forth a good faith effort to get a deal done. I hope that these positive relations can propel us forward to work towards a fair, current contract.”

In other business, the council approved entering into a contract with Eric Ryan Corp. for telecommunications invoice auditing service. Telecom invoice auditing is a detailed review of bills along with the data analysis of the various telecom services and their related expenses.

Earlier this month during a work session meeting, the council heard from Keith Venezie, Eric Ryan Corp. CEO, about the telecommunications invoice auditing services his company, which is located north of Pittsburgh, provides. He said Eric Ryan Corp. has been in business for 30 years and has done work in all 50 states, with around 120 employees working all over the country. He added that he has worked with Fortune 500 companies and municipalities like Chautauqua County.

Venezie said the business format for Eric Ryan Corp., with the company being named after Venezie’s two sons, is a shared savings model with no upfront cost and fees.

Eric Ryan Corp. receives payment by finding savings in telecommunication relates services, which would include land lines and cell phones. Venezie said his business is rewarded 18% of all savings found through the auditing services. He said Eric Ryan Corp. was able to save Chautauqua County $80,000. He added the business is now starting to work with Jamestown Public Schools District officials.

Venezie also said there is no obligation after the business does its auditing report on potential savings. He said with the dynamics of the pandemic, with how government and businesses have changed how they do business, Eric Ryan Corp. officials are finding more and more billing errors.

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