The County and the Kern County Firefighters union did not meet a deadline for a new contract.
The union and the county have been negotiating since the expiration of the old contract in 2017 but failed to reach an agreement.
The County Administrative Office says the county formally will request a declaration of impasse from the Board of Supervisors on May 21, meaning both sides have deadlocked and all negotiations have been exhausted.
The County specifically is asking the union to implement recommendations to reduce overtime spending by $3.4 million, according to a news statement. Recommendations to reduce overtime spending by at least $3.4 million come from the County’s Auditor and a one-time $150,000 analysis. These changes would bring the fire department into alignment with Fair Labor Standards Act overtime requirements.
“If left unaddressed, this deficit will continue to place a heavy burden on other critical County services and public safety functions,” Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop said.
Interim County Fire Chief David Witt responded to the deadlock saying, “regretfully, we haven’t been able to reach an agreement with the union that both maintains fire service levels and makes real progress in addressing the budget deficit.”
Once the declaration is made, according to County officials, the County and union will go through mediation through a third party. If no agreement is reached, then the county’s best and final offer could be imposed as the new contract.