SALEM SERB dismisses two unfair labor charges against firefighters

The contract for firefighters went into effect last year.
SALEM -- A state ruling has ended the most recent contract talks between the city and its firefighters.
The State Employment Relations Board has dismissed two unfair labor practice charges filed by the city against the International Association of Firefighters Local 283.
Russell Keith, SERB's general counsel, said Monday that SERB made the ruling April 10 and mailed notices late last week.
Salem Mayor Larry DeJane said he had not received a copy of the ruling. The ruling, the mayor said, ended all issues relating to the talks.
A three-year contract for the firefighters went into effect at the end of 2002 that was retroactive to July 1, 2002. Firefighters received a 3-percent raise in the first year of the contract and a 3.5-percent raise in each of the next two years.
City's complaints
The city had filed two unfair labor practice complaints from separate events when talks went to a conciliation hearing.
The city contended that a letter to the editor in a newspaper contained a false statement about negotiations which constituted bargaining in bad faith.
The second charge contended that the local contacted Fire Chief Walter Greenamyer to testify at the conciliation hearing on behalf of the firefighters.
Keith said both complaints were dismissed for a lack of probable cause that there was bargaining in bad faith.
As the talks progressed, Keith said, there were no ground rules in place between the city and firefighters about what could be done in terms of letters to the editor or the release of information to the public. Since there were no ground rules, there was no violation, Keith said.
The second charge was dismissed since the fire chief was going to be at the conciliation hearing and testifying anyway, said Keith.
In addition, said Keith, the firefighters union told the fire chief they would be calling him as a witness for the city, not the union local. Keith added that under those circumstances, the chief would be undergoing cross-examination by counsel for the union, not testifying on behalf of the union.