The Jackson County Commissioners held their second meeting Wednesday afternoon with the public and Jackson County Fire Rescue personnel. It was a standing-room only meeting at the county commission meeting room. Several options were outlined as possibilities with the attorney for the Fire Rescue Union and the county’s Union attorney agreeing to a meeting on Thursday in Chipley.
Thursday, all parties left with a feeling of accomplishment with an offer on the table that both sides could live with. Everyone agrees many employees have been lost to surrounding counties for higher pay.
But after a meeting between the firefighters union and representatives from the county, it is hopeful some of those experienced employees may return to Jackson County Fire Rescue.
Jackson County Union President, Davin Davison, "I've got some phone calls in the last couple of days that said if it was successful that we would have some that would come back and also retain some that had already had some employment opportunities offered to them in other places."
Both parties agree Thursday’s meeting was successful and they did reach an agreement pending approval by the commissioners on Tuesday at their regularly scheduled meeting.
Willanne Daniels, Interim County Administrator was positive about the meeting, “The outcome was that we met at a dollar an hour increase for current employees, current fire and rescue employees and that is a sunset of September 30, 2018."
This will allow all current employees at JCFR to receive a pay raise of $1 an hour for now. The pay raise will end September 30 and the county will continue to work on a long-term solution.
Davison said, "We're still having more negotiations down the road that we're going to do but right now they, in due good faith they have offered us some salary increases."
The Union and representatives from the county will meet in May to negotiate permanent wages and benefits, and to update the JCFR contract. Both groups who met Thursday say they are happy that they could come to an agreement.
Daniels said, "The board, myself, staff, you know we understand the concerns and we care very much about these employees as people."
Twenty-seven employees will receive the temporary pay raise. Jackson County Commissioners still have to formally meet Tuesday to iron out the details of where the money will come from. One source would be to put the purchase of a new fire truck on hold for now.