Wednesday's contract negotiations between the fire union and the City have again reached a stalemate.
City negotiators tell the fire union that they are not raising their $5 million offer, but the fire union says that's not good enough. They want close to double that.
Fire union representatives told the city negotiators that they have bent over backwards through the years to help the city financially, and now it is time to start collecting on that goodwill.
The two sides have been negotiating since last April and are still far apart in their discussions. They are currently around $5 million apart.
Assistant city managers Margie Rose and Troy Riggs headed up the city team. They maintain that the City's offer is a fair one, and will put another $110 dollars into firefighters wallets every two weeks. The union counters that firemen here are underpaid and trail other similar departments around the state by as much as 18 percent.
"I'm concerned when you indicate that we are not paying attention, so to speak, to the fire association," Rose said. "That's not true, because the last six years tell that story and I think it tells it very well with you leading the charge between general employees at 7.5 percent, police at 18 and then you at 23 percent. That's the story right there."
"If you want to put it out that way, that's false," firefighter negotiator Kerry Eyring said. "That's misleading, Margie, because yes, we wholly admit to those pay raises, and at the same time you won't admit that we are way below the average pay."
The City also pointed out that it believes it will see an increase in revenues of around $10.6 million over the next two years. Right now, with its offer, the City would be spending half of that on the firefighters. If they gave into the union demands, then that entire revenue surplus would be taken away.
The two sides are going to meet again next Wednesday to see if they can come to an agreement.
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