The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District And First Responders Agree To New Deal
While the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and Disney prepare for their upcoming court battles, some good news has come out of the hotly contested district.
After more than four years of negotiations, the CFTOD and Reedy Creek first responders have agreed to a new labor contract.
According to Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters President Jon Shirey, the new contract calls for increased staffing for the Reedy Creek Fire Department and a significant pay boost for firefighters.
Credit To The CFTOD
Under the Disney-appointed board, the Reedy Creek Improvement District and first responders had been able to come to a new agreement.
Shirey credits the district’s new board of supervisors with accelerating contract negotiations.
Although the current board did not attend bargaining meetings, it made a priority to hear both the district and the union’s concerns, Shirey said. As a result, the two sides reached a tentative agreement in less than two weeks.
“With the feud between Disney and the board, and with the governor, I think that there was a little extra incentive for the board to want to get this thing off their plate,” Shirey said. “The other big difference is that this new board isn’t a single-interest board like they were before.”
Fear Over Disney Lawsuit
While Shirey says he believes that union members will ratify the new deal, there is lingering concern about Disney’s lawsuit against the CFTOD.
“To have a major setback like that would be pretty devastating for our members,” Shirey said.
Increased Staffing For Firefighters
The biggest point of concern for firefighters was increased staffing. In recent years, union leadership has openly spoken about the staffing shortage at the department, which they said could endanger Disney staff and guests.
Increasingly, the fire department was relying on outside agencies to respond to incidents on Disney property.
The new tentative agreement will add approximately 50 firefighter and paramedic positions to the department within a year.
With the increased personnel, the department will add more employees to all shifts and have two to four more ambulances staffed to respond to incidents.
“That’s a game-changer,” Shirey said. “Not only for us working but also just for everybody coming to visit. The odds of there not being a unit available to run those emergency calls are going to be almost eliminated at that point.”
If agreed upon, the proposal will also create a dedicated special operations team responsible for evacuating riders from Disney’s rides and transportation systems when they break down. Currently, trained firefighters switch from other assignments to the special unit when called.
Finally, the new agreement will increase the starting pay for firefighters by about $10,000, a bump that Shirley says will help to recruit.
“That was a direct result of the struggle that we’ve been having with recruitment,” Shirey said. “We did a very broad comparison of the greater Central Florida area, going all the way up to Tampa on the West Coast and then looking at different departments on the East Coast, and we found that we were significantly lower than a lot of the competitors in our market.”
While the public feud between the CFTOD and Disney will surely continue, it is good to hear some good news coming out of Central Florida.
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