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Local 3313 of the International Association of Firefighters, based in Blue Springs, has set a May 18 union vote by Richmond firefighters.
The local claims that the City Council has endorsed the firemen’s efforts and, in support of that claim, offers a letter from City Administrator Rick Childers. In that letter, Childers acknowledges that the city recognizes Local 3313 as “the sole bargaining unit” for Richmond firefighters.
Local 3133 published this comment on their Web site, dated Feb. 25 and written by union representative Sam Purcell: “Tonight the City of Richmond has agreed to allow the firefighters to organize under our local. Our next step will be to contact the State Board of Mediation and file the paperwork. From there they will have an election to organize under our local.”
The city council met in a closed session on Feb. 25 to discuss the matter.
City Clerk Robin Littrell told The Daily News in an e-mail response that the entire council came to a consensus to accept the union.
Councilman Dave Powell however, told The Daily News last week that he and other council members were not in agreement with the letter and that a consensus was never arrived.
Powell said there was no discussion about the issue and that he and others were under the impression that it was a done deal and they were just being informed as a courtesy.
“We didn’t object to it because we didn’t get a chance to object,” Powell said.
Powell said in his opinion the letter would not have been approved if it had been voted on and that he is not the only one unhappy about the situation. Mayor Lance Green said last week the city was directed by the Missouri Municipal League (MML) attorney to discuss the matter in closed session.
Green said Richmond’s Attorney Brian Hall told the city to defer to the MML Attorney. City Administrator Rick Childers identified the attorney as Ivan Schrader, who is actually an attorney for the Missouri Association of Counties (MAC).
Phone calls to Richmond firefighters as to why they are joining a union have not been returned. Firefighter Rob Kinnard declined to comment Tuesday night and defered to Purcell. Purcell did not return a message by press time Wednesday.