Much of the tension detailed in last week's report on contract negotiations between the city and Austin Firefighters Association ("Bad Faith Bargaining?" July 21) appears to have dissipated. AFA President Bob Nicks told the Chronicle on Monday that the two sides met again on Wednesday (as that issue went to press) and Thursday, and reached an agreement that should leave both sides feeling satisfied. In exchange for changes in overtime and vacation policies that could save the city $1 million per year, the city agreed to grant the association concessions on due process, drug testing, and transferability – which allows firefighters who are physically unable to work on a truck to apply for other positions within the department.
"The last two bargaining sessions have been like a whole different world," Nicks said. "It's been civil on both sides. It's been productive as far as people talking about their interests and trying to reach a solution that all sides can agree with. It's been like a whole different bargaining session."
The two sides retreat to their corners for the next week, with plans to return to the negotiating table on Thursday, Aug. 3.
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