Firefighter union votes to ratify new CBA

The collective bargaining agreement now heads to the MCBOCC for approval

Firefighters, from left, Miles Vause, Kyle Politte, Shayne Black and Pablo Gener listen during the Collective Bargaining Agreement meeting between Marion County and the Professional Firefighters of Marion County on East Silver Springs Boulevard in Ocala, Fla. on Thursday, February 10, 2022. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.

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Posted March 11, 2022 | By Matthew Cretul

The general body of the Professional Firefighters of Marion County (PFMCC) voted this week by a two-to-one margin to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) after their leadership and Marion County completed negotiations last month.

“I was very, very glad to see that the body approved it,” said Amanda Tart, the executive director of Administrative Services and Human Resources for Marion County who acted as the county’s representative during the negotiations.  “I think that this is a step in the right direction for the department, and for the county overall.”

Daniel Garcia, the PFMCC president, agreed, and said while the new CBA may not provide all the answers to tackling employment and operational issues, it does give them a baseline.

“We’re not sure that this contract is going to be the ultimate solution for our staffing and workload issues. But we think it’s a start, and hopefully we can build on it as an organization,” Garcia said.

MCFR Deputy Chief for Operations Robert Graff, who also took part in the negotiations, believes the CBA will be a useful tool in attracting new personnel and retaining current MCFR staff.

“We’re extremely pleased that the union ratified the contract,” he said.  “It’s our first step in filling our open positions and addressing the workload for our staff.”

Garcia sees the pay increases the new CBA provides as one area where the contract will have an immediate impact.

“One this it will do, it will certainly allow us to recruit a little better than we have been in the past, considering that our starting rates appear going up,” he said.

Not only do the pay raises help, but having a contract in place, said Tart, allows anyone who is considering a career with MCFR to know what the next three years have in store for them from a financial standpoint.

I think that having a contract really aids in the stability of a department,” she said. “And so, for people who are looking at starting a career with Marion County Fire Rescue, it will give them a comfort level of knowing that the department is in a good place.”

Graff concurred. “They know what they’re gonna get, they’re able to see it, it’s a guarantee and somebody who’s trying to make a decision, they’re gonna come here and we’ll know exactly what their pay is gonna be and how it’s gonna escalate over a period of time,” he said.

With the PFFMC body ratifying the CBA, its final stop is the MCBOCC for approval.  Tart said it should appear on the agenda in April.

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