2018 was a momentous year for efforts to finally bring efficiency and increased safety to Hamilton fire services, and to provide for a truly safer municipality for its residents and visitors. Indeed, after many false starts over the past decades, the township council voted to dissolve the eight separate fire districts and create one municipal fire department.
When that ordinance passed it became the responsibility of Mayor Kelly Yaede to move the process forward by negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with the firefighters, an obligation she has now made into a political pawn by referring to it as a “poison pill.” Shocking in a community that prides itself on being home to so many union members and working families.
I ask anyone from any job title, would you sign on the line for a career without your compensation and benefit package worked out? It just doesn’t work that way.
I question her altruism in wanting to employ these firefighters without agreements in place.
Collective bargaining is not a poison pill, it is a process this mayor absolutely doesn’t believe in. The reality is the only thing toxic about the provision is Yaede’s refusal to engage in meaningful discussions with the union that represents the firefighters.
I remind Mayor Yaede that contract negotiations are only as difficult as either side makes them, and, as our firefighters have made very clear, we are very willing to sit down for open and honest dialogue to reach an agreement.
No, Mayor Yaede, it’s not the firefighters, or the township council, or the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs that’s slowing fire consolidation. It has been, and continues to be, you.
— Eddie Donnelly
President, New Jersey Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association