Reedy Creek Fire Department Union President Blames Fellow Members for Return to Negotiations with CFTOD Board

Shannen Ace

Reedy Creek Fire Department Union President Blames Fellow Members for Return to Negotiations with CFTOD Board

Shannen Ace

Reedy Creek Fire Department Union President Blames Fellow Members for Return to Negotiations with CFTOD Board

The president of the Reedy Creek Fire Department union blames fellow members sharing their new contract for the return to the negotiating table with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors.

In a message obtained by Florida Politics, union president Jon Shirey told members, “We just shot ourselves in the foot to the tune of millions of dollars that this agreement would have put into the pockets of our members.”

reedy creek fire department

The Reedy Creek firefighters have been outspoken proponents for the CFTOD Board and Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision to take over the district. Their old contract expired four years ago and they had not been able to negotiate a new one with the previous Reedy Creek Improvement District Board.

Last month, 80% of 185 Reedy Creek Fire Department’s union members voted to approve a new three-year employment contract. Under the new contract, starting pay for firefighters would increase to $65,000 per year, and EMS starting pay would rise from $40,000 to $54,000 per year. Additionally, the department would hire several more firefighters and EMS paramedics in the next six months.

The CFTOD Board has not approved the firefighters’ new contract and a vote is not on the Board’s agenda. Board spokesperson Alexei Woltornist told AP that negotiations with the union were ongoing.

Shirey said union members shared the contract on social media and with “every outlet they could find.”

“This contract got into the hands of city and county leaders across the state of Florida,” he wrote. “[District administrator Glen Gilzean Jr.] had been receiving calls left and right yelling at him that he couldn’t sign this agreement, and how it was going to screw all of the taxpayers in those areas bc they would have to raise taxes just to be able to recruit and stay even somewhat competitive with the new market.”

“If/when we come to some new agreement,” Shirey continued, “don’t share it with your family, your friends, members of other departments, and definitely not randomly out on social media. DO NOT SHARE IT WITH ANYONE!!!!”

Shirey said the Board and union won’t have a new contract in June and “we would be lucky to have it done by the July board meeting.”

Reedy Creek Fire Department

Reedy Creek Fire District first responders expressed alarm last spring in the wake of Governor Ron DeSantis’ plan to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, stating their lifetime Disney passes and lifelong health insurance were at risk as a result. Union leadership has been in regular dialogue with Gov. DeSantis since, expressing they’re reassured by the governor’s track record with first responders.

Tim Stromsnes, communications director of the Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters Local 2117 union, told the Orlando Sentinel earlier this year in the face of the CFTOD takeover “Anything has got to be better than what we currently have. We really hope that this new board will bring the morale up for Reedy Creek [and] will make us an elite emergency services department again. We’ve got our faith in the governor that we’re going to be around and that it’s going to be a better place to work.”

The union has had a rather rocky relationship with Disney, who appointed all five seats on the district’s Board of Supervisors. Their focus is largely on the theme park business and union members allege the Board cares little for actual employees of the District, which includes first responders like firefighters. Fire trucks and rescue units have broken down on multiple occasions, forcing responders to arrive on the scene in SUVs. Staffing has also remained inadequately low. Disney and Reedy Creek have both aggressively denied these claims.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 9B, which enacted the state takeover of the district, at the Reedy Creek Fire Department in February.

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