Several Chelsea firefighters have applied to the Michigan Employment Relations Committee to unionize the department.
The paperwork was filed in November with the International Association of Firefighters and it’s believed that four of the department’s 12 firefighters signed the paperwork.
In order to file the paperwork, 30 percent of the department must request it.
Chelsea Area Fire Authority Chairman Rod Anderson received a letter from the State Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs dated Nov. 27 about the union request, which was the CAFA board’s first formal notification.
On Tuesday morning, CAFA board members said they were unclear about why some firefighters were requesting to be in a union.
“CAFA’s financial resources and limitations were clearly laid out during the successful campaign for renewal of the authority’s millage, and the CAFA leadership finds it difficult to see how unionization would result in additional pay or benefits for CAFA employees,” Anderson said.
It’s believed that a majority of the firefighters do not want to be in a union.
“We have taken all the initial steps we are aware of, including engaging an experienced labor attorney,” Anderson said. “The board is committed to following the letter and spirit of the law in this matter.”
In August, 2013, the 12-person department is expected to be reduced to nine full-time firefighters when a three-year Federal grant expires, although additional grant funding is currently being researched.
“A lot of things could be resolved if they tell us what the problems are,” said new CAFA board member and Lima Township Supervisor Craig Maier.
In January, the CAFA board plans to begin discussions on a new draft employee policy handbook, which would revise and expand a section in the current handbook (written in about 2001) about procedures for addressing employee grievances.