Holding the line on labor costs is as difficult as it is necessary for municipalities. This month, the City of Bethlehem secured exceptional labor cost relief and restored its management rights in a historic Fire Department Act 111 award.

In this webinar, the Ballard Spahr team and City officials that helped achieve these results will discuss the case and how Bethlehem's strategies can be utilized for labor cost relief. Please join us.

Bethlehem's success was largely due to its Act 111 case presentation. The City presented a compelling case about the severe fiscal challenges facing Third Class cities due to legacy costs and the economic downturn, while emphasizing the need to eliminate inflated manning and flawed mutual aid provisions in its firefighter contract.

Other Pennsylvania cities and municipalities could learn valuable lessons from the strategies used in this arbitration. In this program, Ballard Spahr Labor and Employment partners Kenneth M. Jarin and Patrick J. Harvey, Bethlehem's arbitrator and labor counsel, will join Mayor John B. Callahan and other key arbitration players to discuss the road to Bethlehem’s success.

The award came on the heels of staggering increases in the City's overtime costs, which skyrocketed by nearly $540,000 from 2008 to 2010 due largely to increases in minimum manning requirements. The arbitration panel recognized the City’s fiscal challenges and the structural defects of the fire contract by eliminating minimum manning requirements as well as restrictive mutual aid language.

Other notable provisions of the award include a two-year wage freeze, removal of sick leave from consideration when calculating overtime, increases in health benefit co-pays and contributions, and restoration of the Fire Commissioner's right to assign fire safety inspection duties to firefighters. For new hires, the award also provides for elimination of post-retirement health benefits, decreased pension benefits, and award of spousal health coordination.


John B. Callahan, Mayor, City of Bethlehem
Patrick J. Harvey, Partner, Labor and Employment Group
Kenneth M. Jarin, Partner, Labor and Employment Group
Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, City of Bethlehem
Mark Sivak, Finance Director, City of Bethlehem
Vijay Kapoor, Director of Workforce Consulting, Public Financial Management

For information, contact Lora Burns at burnsl@ballardspahr.com.