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A new decision by the Bureau of Mediation Services will allow part-time, paid on-call firefighters in Brooklyn Park to vote on whether to unionize.
(Published Jun 13, 2012)
A Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) decision recently found that certain Brooklyn Park part-time, paid on-call firefighters were eligible to vote on forming a union. While full-time fire departments are nearly always unionized, most fire departments in Minnesota do not have full-time firefighters and instead are staffed by part-time firefighters who respond to fires and other emergencies on an “on-call” basis.
The BMS decision primarily looked at whether the part-time firefighters worked enough hours to qualify as “public employees” under the Minnesota Public Employment Labor Relations Act (MPELRA). Brooklyn Park had three employees in the proposed bargaining unit who worked 40 hours per week and many others who often exceeded 14 hours per week, which is the threshold stipulated in MPELRA.
As more cities utilize “duty crews” in which some firefighters are scheduled to be at the fire station during certain hours (usually daytime hours), the likelihood that firefighters will work the number of hours required to be eligible to join a union will probably increase.
While this decision applies only to the Brooklyn Park case, each city will want to examine the facts of Brooklyn Park’s situation to determine whether its city might have a similar outcome if part-time firefighters decide to exercise their right to unionize. The firefighters in Brooklyn Park have not yet voted on whether they wish to be represented.
Contact Laura Kushner
Human Resources Director
(651) 281-1203 or (800) 925-1122