After almost a year of negotiating, Commerce Township and the Commerce Township firefighters have reached an agreement on a new contract.
The previous contract was set to expire on March 31.
The contract, signed at the last township board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 8, covers three years and includes a number of “minor things to try to make it work better for the township and employees,” according to Supervisor Tom Zoner.
“The contract went well. Concessions were made on both sides,” he said.
Fire Chief Joe Schornack agreed.
“I think it took a lot of give and take on both parts, by the township and the members of the union, but they came to an agreement that is very workable on both sides.”
The contract calls for no pay raises and a switch in health care providers from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to Priority Health. According to Zoner, the Priority plan is comparable to the previous Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan; however, if the cost of the plan increases, the firefighters would be responsible for 50 percent of the increased cost, with the township covering the other 50 percent.
Zoner said firefighters also would be responsible for a few more deductibles.
While the township wanted to get rid of trade days for firefighters, the union wanted to keep them. In the end, Zoner said they “just left it the way it was.”
According to Zoner, there were quite a few items like this that were addressed to ensure that the township and union came to a working agreement that would improve and maintain relationships while considering the effect on taxpayers.
However, while it took almost a year to reach an agreement, most of that time was spent researching rather than meeting together, according to Zoner.
“Overall, we didn’t meet that much. More time was spent investigating issues such as changing health care providers and the impact it would have,” he said.