MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — Morgantown unions of police officers and firefighters have voted “no confidence” in the entire city administration, which they say refused them pay and caused major staffing and retention issues for Morgantown first responders.
A no confidence vote is a public way for groups to vocalize that they are against certain elected officials
According to a press release from Toriseva Law, the members of the firefighters’ union, IAFF Local 313, and the police union, Mon Preston FOP Lodge 87, made the vote against the following officials:
- Mayor and 4th Ward City Council Member Jennifer Selin
- Deputy Mayor and 5th Ward Council Member Danielle Trumble
- 1st Ward Council Member Joe Abu-Ghannam
- 2nd Ward Council Member Bill Kawecki
- 3rd Ward Council Member Ixya Vega
- 6th Ward Council Member Dave Harshbarger
- 7th Ward Council Member Brian Butcher
- City Manager A. Kim Haws
- Assistant City Manager Emily Muzzarelli
- Human Resources Director John Bihun
The attorney for both unions, Teresa Toriseva, cited several recent “administrative attacks” by city representatives—including taking steps to reduce first responders’ pay, failure to pay them, refusing a city wage and compensation study, and going against state law to create a civilian review board. The unions filed lawsuits for all these complaints, according to Toriseva.
“The city’s conduct toward its police officers is negatively affecting our ability to retain and recruit police officers,” Brandon Viola, President of the Mon-Preston FOP stated.
“A city’s failure to support its firefighters puts public safety at risk,” said IAFF Local 313’s President Mitchell Beall. “Because of the City’s efforts to reduce our pay and benefits and its refusal to follow minimum fire safety standards, we have major retention and recruiting issues.”
“A city’s main function is to ensure citizen safety,” said Toriseva in the release. “Firefighters and police officers are always on duty. No matter how bad the employment conditions get, Morgantown Police Officers and Firefighters show up to protect the city and its citizens.” She continued, “The citizens’ safety requires fully staffed police and fire departments, especially when WVU students are in school. Through so-called ‘HR policy’, the city is creating a work environment hostile to its first responders that is diminishing staffing, recruiting, retention, and morale.”
12News reached out to the city of Morgantown for comment but has not received a response.