By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — It’s a long stretch but the sides are meeting well, said representatives of both the volunteer and organized labor sides of the William Cameron Engine Company as they hammer out their first collective bargaining agreement since becoming a hybrid organization.
William Cameron Fire Chief Stephen Bolinsky would not go into specifics, citing privacy concerns, but said the contract generally is on standard issues of salary, vacation time and other benefits.
Essentially, the contract will put into writing the same benefits the paid firefighters and emergency medical technicians had with the Roberts Co., said Harold Erdley Jr., public information officer for Lewisburg Professional Firefighters and EMTs Local 4917.
The William Cameron had contracted with the Roberts Co. for the first-responder personnel, and Roberts took care of wages and benefits. Since becoming a union, the Lewisburg firehouse has ended its work with Roberts.
There is no deadline for having the contract done, Erdley said, and no one wants to hurry the process.
Bolinsky agreed. “Both sides have a high level or respect for one another and the process,” he said, “and we want to keep it productive. The dialogue is extremely cordial, and both sides come prepared.”
He said the same thing Monday night to the East Buffalo Township supervisors, who have kept a watchful eye on the hybrid department’s operations since 21 paid members voted to unionize last May.
Erdley said both sides have accomplished a lot, considering the union side didn’t get its charter until November. And he has high praise for Bolinsky, who took over as fire chief in January.
Bolinsky “is a very dynamic guy,” Erdley said. “Some things are happening, things are ramping up,” such as the hiring of Career Assistant Chief Richard Scheesley.
Erdley said he’s known Scheesley for some time, including as one of his students, and “he brings a lot of experience. He’s organized and structured. The focus is more intense because Scheesley is there.”