Monarch Fire Protection District

Rescue crews from the Monarch Fire Protection District work at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on May 3, 2016.
Monarch Fire Protection District | Facebook

In 2011, the members of the Monarch Fire Protection District board and representatives from the International Association of Firefighters Local 2655 sat down and negotiated a three-year contract that would expire in December 2013. It included the following "evergreen" clause: "This agreement shall remain in effect during good faith negotiations, and shall continue to remain in full force and effect until until such time as a new agreement is agreed upon." 

By 2013, when the terms were set to expire, the make-up of the board had become more anti-union. Its members sued, saying that evergreen clause improperly binds the board into a contract with no end date. A previous legislative body, the board argued, cannot force a new legislative body to agree to a contract it didn't sign. A St. Louis County judge said it was wrong.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The battle underway in the Monarch Fire Protection District in west St. Louis County involves far more than pink T-shirts and whether the district’s firefighters can sport and sell such shirts to promote efforts to fight breast cancer.

As district board member Jane Cunningham and her firefighter critics see it, the fight is actually over the clout of the district’s collective-bargaining organization, Local 2665 of the International Association of Firefighters/Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri.

The State Auditor’s Office is pleased overall with efforts by the Monarch Fire Protection District in Chesterfield to implement changes recommended in a recent audit.

In February, Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich (R) gave the Monarch Fire District a “C,” in part for its early retirement incentives package that violated the State Constitution.  Spokesman for the Auditor’s office, Spence Jackson, says their recommendations there have yet to be implemented.

“They told us that that’s not something that they’re going to have to deal with again for another couple of years," Jackson said.  "But they did indicate that they would apply more due diligence with how future retirement incentives are handled, and we’re pleased with that.”

The Monarch Fire Protection District, in West St. Louis County, should expect to be audited later this year after Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the State Auditor’s Office to perform an audit of the fire district. The governor gave the order after reviewing allegations against the fire district sent by the State Auditor’s Office.