The city of Ketchum administration has agreed to a new contract with the union representing professional firefighters in the city Fire Department.
The contract still needs approval from the City Council and the membership of Ketchum Professional Firefighters Local 4758. If that happens, the new contract will begin Oct. 1.
Negotiating teams from the administration and the union reached agreement during a session held Friday morning at City Hall.
The new contract will provide the professional firefighters with a 3 percent, across-the-board pay increase. It will add 3 percent to the top end of the firefighters’ salary ranges, as well.
The agreement puts off a contentious debate on changing the schedule used in the Ketchum Fire Department. Firefighters work a 24-hour shift schedule, while firefighters in Sun Valley work 48-hours-on, 96-hours-off schedules.
As discussions of merging the two cities’ fire departments continue, the Ketchum city administration pressed for more flexibility from the union on scheduling.
Mayor Neil Bradshaw proposed language that would provide the fire chief the authority to change the schedule with six months notice.
That proposal was scrapped in favor of a union-proposed idea of adding review sessions into the calendar year, in which the city administration and the union would sit down and discuss changes to the schedule.
The union proposed holding one session in November, but agreed to hold a second session in May.
The city had pushed for more flexibility in setting the schedule because it was desired by the city of Sun Valley and the Ketchum Rural Fire Protection District board of commissioners.
“We’ll live with the consequences of this because we want to get this done,” Bradshaw said Friday.
Union local Vice President Greg Martin responded that the review sessions will protect both sides from bad-intentioned changes.
“It protects us both, is what we’re getting at,” Martin said.
For hours worked above a full-time schedule, firefighters have a choice of taking overtime pay at a rate of time and a half or of taking time off. On Friday, the union conceded to a city proposal to provide compensatory time at a rate of one hour off for each overtime hour worked, rather than at a rate of one and half times. Under the current contract, comp time is provided at a rate of one and a half times extra hours worked.
Each side has been at odds over comp time for years. It was a point of debate in contract negotiations in 2016, and the parties went through a fact-finding process on comp time during negotiations in 2010-11.
“This is much appreciated,” Bradshaw said.