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Published: Saturday, 8/16/2014 - Updated: 2 years ago

Fire union claims retaliation over Facebook posts


The city of Perrysburg firefighters union has filed an unfair labor complaint against the city of Perrysburg, claiming a reduced minimum staffing level at the department is retaliation.

The complaint, which was filed July 16, accuses Fire Chief Jeff Klein of telling the union president and employees the city would have reconsidered the four-man minimum it’s used since March except employees publicly posted concerns on Facebook.

The report states Chief Klein told the employees the city would have returned to a five-man minimum after the city’s fire department overtime budget was restored, but now the new minimum-staff rule will be indefinite.

The International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3331 said in its complaint to the State Employment Relations Board that the reasoning for not restoring the staffing level is unlawful and retaliation.

Neither Chief Klein nor Michelle Sullivan, union lawyer, would comment on the complaint because of the ongoing investigation by the State Employment Relations Board, which will schedule a hearing on the complaint after receiving statements and evidence from both sides.

The union and its members have been vocal in their disapproval of the four-man minimum, raising their concerns about the reduced staffing requirement at city council meetings.

The union’s Facebook page posted June 20: “Yes, this 4 man minimum is really working out. One run tonight and having to call township for help. Why?”

In March, the city reduced the minimum number of firefighters required for each shift from five to four to reduce overtime costs in the fire department. The city made a similar move in June and early July in 2013 to keep overtime costs within budgeted amounts.

In 2013, the city’s fire department overtime budget was $390,000. This year, it is $400,000. The department has 24 full-time employees.

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.

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