Reponses to The Daily News’ inquiries on the approval of a letter sent to International Association of Firefighters Local 3133 are conflicting.
When asked last Thursday during a special Richmond City Council meeting if the Richmond firefighters have unionized, Mayor Lance Green said the council recognized the Richmond firefighters had petitioned a union. He did not disclose that the city council had approved a letter sent to Local 3133 saying the city had officially recognized the union as the representatives of the Richmond firefighters under the rank of captain.
None of the seven council members had comment on the action.
After press time yesterday, City Clerk Robin Littrell responded to a The Daily News e-mail asking when the letter was approved.
The Daily News received this response: “This issue is a legal matter that is concerning potential litigation, concerning personnel and dealing with the drafting of contracts, and therefore this information is not in the open minutes record.”
The Daily News then informed Littrell that Fire Chief Lonnie Quick read the letter to the newspaper and that Local 3133 was reporting on their Web site the city had agreed to the union’s request at their Wednesday Feb. 25 meeting.
Littrell responded by e-mail saying, “No official vote was taken, but it was authorized by general consensus with no one opposed. Council members attending the closed meeting were Tom Williams, Jason Berning, Beverly Gorham, Melissa Miller, Dave Powell, Tammy Folvarcik, and Scott Marshall.”
Quick told The Daily News yesterday firefighters still have to go through a few steps before negotiations can begin, and that there have been no negotiations up to this point.
Missouri Press Association Attorney Jean Maneke, an expert in Missouri Sunshine Law, said public bodies cannot come to a consensus and the only way a public body can act is to vote.
Maneke said the council took a “de-facto” vote and their action should be reflected in the public minutes.
“The decision was to not litigate over the union’s right to represent the workers,” Maneke said in an e-mail response to The Daily News. “The board decided to recognize the union and that took a vote of the board members, which should have been placed in the minutes.”
Maneke said for the city to withhold the minutes is illegal.