The firefighters’ union in La Pine is asking the chief of the fire district to resign.
The La Pine Rural Fire District Board of Directors had a guarded reaction to the request.
It was standing room only at Thursday’s meeting of the LPRFD board of directors.
The La Pine Professional Firefighters Association, Local 3387, alleged recent firefighter resignations are a result of Chief Michael Supkis’s management style.
“We had seven members walk off the job for different reasons. Many of them wrote letters to the board and the chief. None of these ever go answered,” said Kevin Leehmann, President of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3387. “I send letters and emails to the chief; I get no answer. He’s never answered our request for him to resign.”
Board members said they held a meeting in March to address firefighters’ concerns but only one union member showed up.
One board member described the union letter requesting the chief’s resignation as inflammatory and lacking documentation.
Leehman said union members are tired of being ignored.
“We have a contract that he doesn’t follow. He openly ignores it.”
Leehman said the union has filed eight grievances and two unfair labor practices.
Many of them stem from staffing shortages during which firefighters worked overtime to keep La Pine’s three stations open.
The board said staffing shortages aren’t unique to La Pine.
Fire departments throughout the state are struggling to hire enough people.
At Thursday’s meeting, Chief Supkis announced two new hires, leaving one vacancy in the full-time ranks.
The board of directors met with the president of the firefighter union in executive session after the regular meeting.
The state representative of the firefighters union was in that meeting as well.