After more than two years of negotiations, contract talks between firefighters and the Moraga-Orinda Fire District have reached a standstill, and district officials are considering special measures to impose a new contract if firefighters reject what they are calling their two last "best and final proposals."
A statement released Friday by Moraga-Orinda Fire District officials that negotiations had reached an impasse came as a surprise to the union, said Contra Costa County IAFF Local 1230 President Vince Wells.
"They never told us they were declaring an impasse," he said. The union membership is scheduled to vote next week on the district's latest proposals, Wells said.
The two sides have been negotiating since the contract expired in January 2010. Neither side would speak about contract specifics, but the latest proposal includes options for three-year and one-year contracts.
In their statement, district officials said they are focusing on issues including unfunded liabilities caused by the rising cost of health benefits for employees and retirees; moving future employees to a different pension benefit formula; and keeping pay in line with financial budgets and constraints.
Wells said pension and medical costs have always been two of the most important issues for firefighters. He said the union had addressed unfunded liabilities for pension and retiree health care in their counteroffers.
"It's kind of disappointing
Fire district board President Fred Weil said the district could hold a public hearing and impose a contract with a one-year term if the union membership rejects the offers and both parties are still unable to come to an agreement.
"(The district) wants an amicable resolution for the contract," Weil said. "You want to try to work through (negotiations) as amicably as you can, even it if takes longer."