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Arbitration board gives Moncton firefighters 16% wage increase

September 12, 2014

MONCTON – The City of Moncton received the Fire Interest Arbitration Decision (City of Moncton vs IAFF Local 999) for the contract period of January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2015. The arbitration board’s decision is binding and will see firefighters earn a 16% wage increase over the four years with 4.25% retroactive to January 1, 2012, 4% for both 2013 and 2014, and 3.75% for 2015.

Under New Brunswick legislation, there are no strike or lockout rights for firefighters.  When a collective agreement cannot be negotiated between the parties, it is settled via interest arbitration, a third party process intended to replicate what the parties would have otherwise negotiated.

During the collective bargaining process, the City was seeking the use of casual firefighters as a way to reduce overtime and deal with staffing issues during large scale fires and emergency events, the elimination of the 24-hour shift (in place since 1976) to be replaced with shorter shifts similar to other New Brunswick cities, as well as the elimination of the job security clause. The arbitration board did not grant the City any of the contract language changes requested.

Reacting to the decision, Mayor George LeBlanc says: “We have worked hard over the past several years to keep wage increases under control. The people of Moncton went through a five month labour dispute with ATU Local 1290 that ended in a nine year deal averaging 2.56% per year, we recently settled with PSAC/CHEA Local 60200 (inside workers) at an average of 1.5% for four years, and in April the non-bargaining group saw a 1.25% adjustment to their wage scales. We value our firefighters and the work they do; however, this decision puts significant additional strain on the City’s financial situation that will influence other contract bargaining in the province”.

For his part, City Manager, Jacques Dubé adds: “The continued high wage settlements reached through interest arbitration are getting out of hand. This process is undermining the bargaining process and it is time that new legislated guidelines be adopted so that firefighters and taxpayers are being treated fairly.”

“The Industrial Relations Act provides Arbitrators the freedom to impose such decisions with no regard for the economic circumstances of our cities and province.  We want assurances that they (unions) receive fair wage settlements according to what the arbitration process was originally intended to do, which is to mirror collective bargaining.  Arbitration Boards have become the bargaining forum of choice for firefighters and there is currently no incentive to do otherwise”, concludes Dubé.

Other New Brunswick cities such as Saint John and Fredericton were unable to freely negotiate their last collective agreements with firefighters and have had to proceed to interest arbitration.

The Cities of New Brunswick Association (through City Managers and Municipal Sector HR Managers) are advocating a change to the Industrial Relations Act and are analyzing what the recommended revisions should be.

The following table demonstrates the wage increase from the end of the 2008 agreement until the end of the new agreement on December 31, 2015:

   Dec 31, 2008  Dec 31, 2011  Dec. 31,2015
(end of the new agreement)
Total percentage increase in 7 yrs.
First class firefighter   $58,858  $67,007  $78,400  33 %
Lieutenant   $61,212  $69,687  $81,536  33 %
Captain   $64,744  $73,707  $86,240  33 %
Division Chief  $70,041  $79,738  $93,296  33 %

*These are salary dollars and do not include overtime, service pay or statutory holiday pay.

Other notes:

  • IAAF members represent 110 firefighters in fire operations, fire prevention and training divisions.
  • Four of the past five collective agreements in Moncton have been settled through interest arbitration.

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Media Contact:

Isabelle LeBlanc
Director, Communications
City of Moncton
506-853-3592/ Isabelle.leblanc@moncton.ca