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Firefighters union withdraws complaint against city

The City of Roswell and the union representing Roswell firefighters have resumed negotiations, according to a union representative. In this March 27 photo, local fire crews battle a fire at a mobile home. (File Photo)

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A local firefighters union has withdrawn its complaint against the City of Roswell, saying that negotiations over wages and other matters have resumed.

Ron Chambers, a representative with Local 1249 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, sent a letter Sept. 21 to the city indicating that the union was withdrawing its previously filed complaint alleging that the city was violating ordinances by not participating in bargaining talks.

“The recent return to the bargaining table, has ensured the bargaining should proceed timely and in good faith, negating the stalled conditions that existed at the time the complaint was filed,” the union letter stated.

A meeting of the Labor Management Relations Board that had been scheduled for today has been canceled as a result.

Lawyer Rich Olson, chair of the board, could only confirm the meeting cancelation.

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Chambers said neither party is allowed to discuss the specifics of the negotiation, but he acknowledged that negotiations have resumed.

The original “Prohibited Practices” complaint was filed July 25 by Scott Maxwell, at that time the chief negotiator for the union. In the complaint, Local 1249, also known as the Roswell Professional Firefighters Union, alleged that the bargaining talks had “stalled” after a March 27 meeting. The complaint also alleged that attempts by union representatives to work with the city’s representative in the negotiations, Dina Holcomb of Holcomb Law Office in Albuquerque, either had gone unanswered or had been put off by saying that the union’s law firm needed to be involved in the issues. The union said that the law firm only served as advisers, not as parties to the negotiations.

The complaint alleged that the discontinuation of the talks constituted violations of two provisions of the city’s Labor Management Relations Ordinance, created a situation “prejudicial” to the union and made negotiations for salary increases “very difficult.”

In its Aug. 16 response, the city of Roswell and City Attorney Aaron Holloman denied the allegations and asked the Labor Management Relations Board to dismiss the complaint. The response said that emails had been exchanged with the union in May and acknowledged that the union representatives had been encouraged to consult with its lawyers.

In a prior interview, Holloman said that the city and firefighters have agreed on several issues but that some “economic issues” remain to be resolved.

Roswell Fire Department personnel voted 52-7 for the union on March 13, 2017, and the Labor Management Relations Board certified the vote March 23.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.