Union Alleges Wrongful Termination, Free Speech Violations at City of Niceville

In Brief:

  • The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has filed a lawsuit against the city of Niceville, alleging former Lieutenant Timmy Sallee was fired for his role in union negotiations.
  • The IAFF claims that City Manager David Deitch retaliated against Sallee and has designated his case for union support under the IAFF Guardian Policy.
  • The city denies these allegations, with arbitration set to begin in August.

One of the fire department negotiators was fired in the middle of last year’s negotiations between the city of Niceville’s management team and the members of the city’s firefighters union on a renewal of the collective bargaining contract. Now, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) union has filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging the firefighter, former Lieutenant Timmy Sallee, was terminated due to his role in union negotiations.

“Our city manager, David Deitch, made his dislike for the union clear, which included threats of terminating jobs,” said Sallee, who was on the negotiations team. “People often get passionate during negotiations, so we just continued to bargain in good faith. But one night, he said he wanted to speak to me after the meeting and fired me.”

City Manager David Deitch denies the claim he threatened to terminate employment of anyone in this matter. 

RELATED: Fire Fighter Union, City Agree To New Contract

The IAFF’s General President, Edward Kelly, designated Sallee’s case eligible for union support under the IAFF Guardian Policy. According to the IAFF, the policy “provides legal representation from the IAFF General Counsel to protect union leaders subjected to retaliation for engaging in union-related activities or speaking out on matters of public concern. “The Union added they plan to file a federal lawsuit against the city for violating Sallee’s free speech rights for “speaking up on behalf of his fellow union members during contract negotiations.”

RELATED: Niceville FD Battalion Chief Fired, Union Members Demand Answers at City Council.

According to a release from the IAFF, the City of Niceville sought an injunction against the grievance arbitration and tried to file a restraining order against Sallee so that he could not attend union meetings at the firehouse. The IAFF was able to defeat the injunction on June 14.

 

Arbitration, according to the union, is supposed to begin in August.

The City’s Response

We contacted Niceville City Manager David Deitch about the lawsuits and the claims made against his office by the IAFF in their news release. He said that their claim he “made [his] dislike for the union clear and” threatened to terminate the employment of firefighters was not factual.

He maintained, as he has since May, that the city has not filed a lawsuit against the city – and added that he will not elaborate on the situation further. “As there are ongoing personnel issues in this case, I will not make any comments on this case,” he wrote to Mid Bay News in an email.

This is a developing story. We will update you here or in new articles as the situation progresses.

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