LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Firefighters in Lewiston continue to work without a contract, and it could be some time before they get one. Lewiston firefighters have been trying to reach an agreement with the city for 2½ years.
Monday night, city negotiators held another meeting with representatives of the firefighters, but once again, no resolution was reached.
Firefighters claim the city wants concessions from them and won't hire additional staff to compensate. The city isn't commenting on details of the talks but says there's precedent for firefighters in Maine to work without a contract as many as five years.
The contracts themselves are limited to three years, which means the city is getting close to spending as much time developing one as they would using it.
In the meantime, the old contract is still in effect so firefighters will receive their existing pay and benefits.
The city said it has negotiated contracts with other unions in recent months so the timeline for this negotiation is fairly standard.
“We'll either get this one done quickly or it won't get done quickly,” said Phil Nadeau, deputy city administrator for the city of Lewiston. “We'll find out – that's what negotiation is all about. If I tried to predict the future I wouldn't be in this business, I'd be in some other business, so we always work hard with the idea that we're going to settle this contract.”
The union that represents Lewiston's firefighters issued its own statement on the lack of progress.
It said, in part, “The demonstrated lack of respect for the members of the Lewiston Fire Department has been made very clear during these two and a half years of negotiations. The men and woman of the Lewiston Firefighters Association come to work each day to protect our citizens and that will not change.”
The statement, written by union president Rick Cailler, goes on to say the firefighters have no plans to strike because that would compromise public safety.