CUMBERLAND — Allegany County Circuit Court Judge W. Timothy Finan said he would issue his order by the end of Friday’s business day concerning an ongoing court matter between the International Association of Firefighters Local 1715 and the city of Cumberland.
The firefighters are working without a contract and negotiations have continued since January for both sides to reach agreement on a new labor contract.
However, an impasse in the negotiations was declared Thursday by both sides at the outset of the hour-long hearing where arguments were presented by Baltimore attorney Francis Collins, who represented Local 1715, and Baltimore attorney Jefferson Blomquist, who represents the city in consultation with city solicitor Michael Cohen.
In declaring the impasse stipulated by both parties, the judge ordered both sides to compile a list of issues that are involved in the impasse. He gave a deadline of May 14 for both sides to stipulate the issues to one another.
The judge could order both sides to engage in mediation by a third-party that could lead to resolution of the contract negotiations’ impasse. Failure to reach agreement at the nonbinding resolution stage would be followed by a fact-finding process in an effort to reach an agreement.
The court is also expected to clarify the matter of whether or not the collective bargaining agreement provisions would “survive” the contract termination date of June 30, 2014.
During the hearing, Finan said, “I think this case needs some kind of conclusion.” He noted two months remain for the city and the union to settle the matter brought before the court by the firefighters.
No testimony was presented during the hearing that also included the attendance of Cumberland Fire Chief Donnie Dunn, City Comptroller Joe Urban and Local 1715 President Ken McKenzie.
Once the judge issues his order, no further court hearings are expected unless an appeal of the judge’s order would be filed.