Cumberland Times-News

Local News

August 27, 2013

Firefighters union holding up city’s health care switch, mayor says

CUMBERLAND — The United Food and Commercial Workers Union appealed to Cumberland officials Tuesday for information on stalled negotiations over the selection of a new health care benefits package for the city’s rank and file employees.

There are three unions, the UFCW, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the International Association of Firefighters Local 1715, that represent most city workers.

The issue on the table is the desire of the city, along with the UFCW and AFSCME, to switch health care packages from Blue Cross Blue Shield to CIGNA.

“At this point our negotiations are stalled. It’s frustrating,” said Doug Menapace of the UFCW Local 1994, which represents city police officers.

According to city officials, the change from BCBS to CIGNA will allow employees a broader choice of doctors at a lower premium.

The city, UFCW and AFSCME have all been in agreement in their desire to switch to CIGNA. However, the firefighters local has opposed the change.

BCBS recently implemented a 10 percent increase in health care premiums, effective July 1.

“The ever increasing health care premiums have caused our members to suffer,” said Menapace.

A switch to the less costly CIGNA plan, which is made available through the Local Government Insurance Trust, will help the city realize an annual savings of about $440,000, according to city officials.

The main issue surrounding the logjam is how the money saved by the city, from the switch in health plans, will be used.

“Is the continued delay in our inability to make a move to the new health care plan a result of the firefighters’ refusal to go along?” Menapace asked the council during public input.

Mayor Brian Grim confirmed that the IAFF is preventing the health care switch from moving forward.

“We are currently considering impasse mediation with the IAFF and we are also considering other available options. We feel it’s (the CIGNA plan) a pretty good plan all the way around,” said Jeff Rhodes, city administrator.

“It’s unfortunate our counterpart is hanging us out to dry, so to speak,” said Menapace.

Menapace said the CIGNA plan allows choices of out-of-state doctors that BCBS did not. He said prescription coverage is better under CIGNA as well.

“I understand collective bargaining. At the end of the day when their (IAFF) decisions (to hold out) has impacted my members in a negative way, there isn’t anything you can do but stand up and put a voice behind it,” said Menapace.

Ken McKenzie, president of the Cumberland IAFF Local 1715, was interviewed by the Times-News by phone following the City Hall meeting.

“We have not stopped progress on it. We are at a mediation point,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie said that Local 1715 has obtained an attorney.

“We want to help the city save money, but we want to address some of our issues as well,” said McKenzie.

The IAFF local, according to McKenzie, wants to see the funds, saved by a health plan change, used to maintain staffing of the fire department.

“We want to work with a 13-member staff,” said McKenzie.

Budgetary issues and compliance with previous agreements on overtime expenses are causing the firefighters to operate with 12 employees per shift, according to McKenzie.

“We asked for a guarantee to have a staff of 13 year around,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie said that the IAFF has other demands and that they are safety-related concerns.

“The city will have a long-term anticipated savings. The savings will be in the hundreds of thousands. Adding a thirteenth employee with cost around $40,000 a year,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie said that mediation should begin by mid-September.

Greg Larry can be contacted at

Text Only
Local News
  • W.Va. Supreme Court reinstates man’s murder convictions

    The West Virginia Supreme Court has reinstated a man’s first-degree murder convictions for the 1982 slayings of two people in Marion County, ruling that a lower court erred when it granted him a new trial.

    April 24, 2014

  • Major oil and gas firm to list fracking chemicals

    A major supplier to the oil and gas industry says it will begin disclosing 100 percent of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid, with no exemptions for trade secrets. The move by Baker Hughes of Houston is a shift for a major firm; it’s unclear if others will follow suit.

    April 24, 2014

  • Stickley receives Mineral schools service personnel of year award

    David Stickley, an electrician in the maintenance department at Mineral County schools, has been selected as Mineral County’s 2014 Service Personnel of the Year. 

    April 24, 2014

  • Prescription drug take back day Saturday across state

    The Maryland State Police, in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, are asking citizens to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs during the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. statewide.

    April 24, 2014

  • 43-year-old receives prison time for molesting his niece

    CUMBERLAND — A 43-year-old city man was sentenced Wednesday to a 10-year prison term for the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl, according to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Allegany County.

    April 24, 2014

  • House of cards House of cards

    Sixth-graders James Patalinghug, left, and Nina Cutter build a multilevel tower out of index cards Tuesday afternoon at Washington Middle School. The activity was part of a science, technology, engineering, math, known as STEM, lesson designed to teach students about load distribution, friction and gravity.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • CORY ORNDORFF Green Spring man sentenced to 40 years for toddler’s death

    ROMNEY, W.Va. — Hampshire County Circuit Court Judge H. Charles Carl III sentenced 22-year-old Cory A. Orndorff of Green Spring to 40 years in prison for one count of child abuse resulting in the death of an 18-month-old child Wednesday morning.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Glen Bell, a public information officer 900-acre Bear Den wildfire 70 percent contained

    CENTERVILLE, Pa. — A 900-acre wildfire on Wills Mountain in Bedford County was said Wednesday to be “the largest fire in Pennsylvania this spring season,” according to Cecile Stelter, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry public information officer.
    The fire that was reportedly situated mostly on state game lands began Saturday at about 2 p.m., with initial firefighting efforts handled by the Cumberland Valley Township Volunteer Fire Department at Centerville.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • System to provide firefighters quick access could be required in new Mineral businesses

    KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County Commission agreed to look into the possibility of implementing an ordinance that would require new commercial businesses to install a KNOX-BOX Rapid Entry System.

    April 23, 2014

  • Puff & Stuff owners agree to settlement over claims they sold synthetic drugs

    CUMBERLAND — Charles and Traci Casey, owners of Puff & Stuff stores in Cumberland and LaVale, have agreed to forfeit $173,988.61, to settle claims that they sold synthetic drugs at their stores.

    April 23, 2014

Must Read
News related video