Fire department mechanics join Machinists District 751

SPOKANE VALLEY — Mechanics and couriers for the Spokane Valley Fire Department are the newest members of Machinists Union District Lodge 751, after a favorable ruling that clarified who will be members of the new bargaining unit.

SpokaneValleyFireThe ruling by the state’s Public Employment Relations Commission means that all of the department’s fleet maintenance workers will be included in the union, said IAM 751 Organizer Jesse Cote.

“With that issue clarified, we’ll be able to move ahead with negotiations toward a first contract for these workers,” he said.

The department had argued that one of the workers, who holds the title of “fleet operations supervisor,” should be excluded from the union because he’s a manager.

But District 751 argued – successfully – that since he spends less than an hour a week doing administrative tasks, can’t hire workers on his own and doesn’t have authority to discipline them, he’s really part of the regular workforce.

District 751 had filed a petition to represent the workers with the state commission in August 2015, after nearly all of them had signed authorization cards calling on the fire department to recognize them as a union bargaining unit.

The International Association of Fire Fighters represents the department’s fire fighters, but the maintenance shop workers have not had union representation.

The workers do maintenance on the Spokane Valley Fire Department’s fleet of 14 fire trucks and other emergency vehicle, while also maintaining equipment used by fire fighters including generators, chain saws, snow blowers and hydraulic rescue equipment.

They also maintain fire trucks and emergency vehicles for the Northern Lakes Fire Department in Kooteani County, Idaho.

The group includes two master-level certified emergency vehicle mechanics.

While District 751 represents bus and truck mechanics, the new group at the Spokane Valley Fire Department will be the union’s first emergency vehicle mechanics, noted IAM 751 Business Rep Steve Warren.

“The jobs these workers do are absolutely essential to the safety of everyone who lives in the Spokane Valley and on the Rathdrum Prairie,” said IAM 751 President Jon Holden. “This has been a long process, but we are proud to have them as part of our union and I’m confident we’ll be successful in helping them negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.”

Originally formed in 1935 by hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 32,000 working men and women at 53 employers across Washington and California. In Eastern Washington, they are served by a network of local lodges that includes Machinists Union Local Lodge 86 in Spokane, Machinists Union Local Lodge 1123 in Coulee City and Machinists Union Local Lodge 1951 in Richland.

Think you’d be better off working under a union contract? Click here to talk to an IAM 751 representative about how to join the Machinists Union.



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