Council makes difficult decision to approve contract with Lewiston firefighters

LEWISTON, ID - The Lewiston City Council approved a three year contract with the Lewiston City Firefighters union at Monday night's city council meeting.

"I can't vote on something I haven't even had the chance to read," said Lewiston City Council Member Clinton Daniels.

It wasn't an easy decision to come by as some city councilors put up a fight against an agreement that would approve collective bargaining between the city of Lewiston and the International Association of Firefighters Local 1773. The 41 page resolution was presented to city council members on Friday via email and was slated for approval at Tuesday night's meeting. But for some city councilors, that just wasn't enough time to both read the agreement and feel comfortable approving it.

"There's a lot of details in here and there weren't a lot of changes supposedly but I'd like to go through it and actually make sure," said Daniels.

"It makes me a little queasy thinking of signing something without being able to say I read that," said councilor Thyra Stevenson.

Despite the hesitation to approve the three year contract, that in the first year would cost roughly $112,000, the majority of councilor members were in favor of accepting and approving the contract. However, that approval didn't happen without a fight.

"Delaying this in my eye after we put our trust in our city manager and our city attorney, what's that going to tell the fire department, what's that going to tell that union?" said councilor Brad Cannon. "I'm sorry I put my trust in that gentleman right there, and that city attorney to make sure that's right, and it is right, I skimmed through it ... looked okay to me!"

"I mean, we put the trust in the staff but the citizens put the trust in us to be informed," said Daniels. "I mean that's the point, otherwise, why don't we just have the staff do everything and why even have a city council?"

Suggestions to postpone the approval of the contract were later ruled out and the bargaining agreement was approved with a five to one vote with Daniels abstaining.

The new agreement takes effect on October 1st, 2012.