The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has reached an agreement with the Reedy Creek fire department’s union for one unit after reopening negotiations last month.
Fire Department Agreement
In May, 80% of 185 Reedy Creek Fire Department’s union members voted to approve a lucrative new employment 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 25 more firefighters and 12 more EMS paramedics in the next six months.
After this contract leaked, District Administrator Glen Gilzean Jr. reopened negotiations with the union. Union president Jon Shirey blamed members for the delay, saying they shared the contract on social media and with “every outlet they could find.”
“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,” he wrote in a message to members.
An agreement regarding pay, benefits, and working conditions has now been reached for the A Unit of the Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters Association IAFF 2117. It has been backdated to January 1, 2023, and will remain in place through 2025.
This agreement does not cover leadership positions such as chief, commander, and supervisor. Below are the starting wages for the positions the agreement does cover:
- EMT/Firefighter: $56,000
- Paramedic/Firefighter: $66,000
- Lieutenant: $73,000
- Engineer: $69,500
- Plans Examiner: $60,800
- Fire Inspector: $55,900
- Assistant Supervisor: $53,600
- EMS Team Paramedic: $53,500
- Dispatcher: $50,600
- EMS Team EMT: $45,400
An agreement for the other positions will be negotiated separately.
Reedy Creek Firefighters & CFTOD
Reedy Creek Fire District first responders initially 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.
But as Governor DeSantis’ plan shifted from a dissolution to a takeover, the fire department became outspoken proponents for the decision.
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 had a rocky relationship with Disney, who appointed all five seats on the old Reedy Creek Improvement District’s Board of Supervisors. Their focus was on the theme park business and union members allege the Board didn’t care much for actual employees of the District, including first responders like firefighters.
Reportedly, fire trucks and rescue units broke down on multiple occasions, forcing responders to arrive on the scene in SUVs. Staffing also remained inadequately low. Disney and Reedy Creek both aggressively denied these claims.
The old union contract expired four years ago and they had not been able to negotiate a new one with the previous Board.
Shirey said earlier this year that prior to the CFTOD Board’s takeover, the union “had gotten zero momentum in moving this thing any closer to being signed. There’s a huge level of relief. We have a level of open communication dialogue that we’ve never experienced before here.” (via WESH)