To the editor:
On behalf of the Cape Coral Professional Firefighters Local 2424, I would like to inform you that on March 18- March 20, this organization held a ratification vote on a collective bargaining agreement between the City of Cape Coral and the Cape Coral Professional Fire Fighters Local 2424 of the IAFF, which represents both Rank & File and Battalion Chiefs. The members of Local 2424 approved the new Collective Bargaining Agreement Pension Article that will essentially save the City of Cape Coral $65.5 million dollars over the next 25 years. This ratification has been the most recent in a line of reforms/concessions that this Local has made including a 5 percent wage reduction with concessions in 2012 and the voluntary freezing of our step plan/raises seven years ago.
It took a little over a year to negotiate this agreement, but after changes were made by the majority of voters of Cape Coral, an oppressive approach to bargaining was lifted by the City and an agreement was reached soon after that. By taking a different approach to bargaining, both the Local and the City were able to avoid having to go to impasse. While Local 2424 has agreed to the ratification, City Council must still vote on the reform. We are confident that this will happen later this month when it is brought before Council. We would like to thank City Manager John Szerlag, Financial Services Director Victoria Bateman, and their supporting staff for the professionalism and respect they showed when both parties could finally sit down and find a common ground.
As President of this great Local, I have to thank the fine men and women that had to make this difficult decision, however, the fire fighters recognize that the economy is still not where it needs to be. We felt it was in the best interest of the citizens in which we serve to come to an agreement, so that the new City Council can move Cape Coral forward in a positive direction. We are confident that this Council will be able to restore the trust and positivity that has been lost in recent years. The brave men and women of the Cape Coral Professional Fire Fighters Local 2424 of the IAFF look to continue to serve the community, to the best of our ability, in a way that you demand and deserve.
Eric Chudzik, President
Cape Coral Professional Firefighters