Firefighters lose 3 percent raise with other city employees

Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 06:15 PM.

CRESTVIEW — A vote by the city council Monday evening has resolved an issue affecting the city's contract with the local firefighters' union.

A fiscal crunch that led to wage freezes for city employees, and the loss of six city employee jobs, also will apply to the city's firefighters.

Officials from both sides of the issue quickly noted that negotiations were always amiable, with both sides working to resolve the matter and acknowledging the fiscal downturn that precipitated the issue.

Crestview Fire Department's 39 International Association of Fire Fighters members were to receive a 3 percent cost-of-living raise, the same amount generally given to all city employees. However, when the city was $2.5 million short, city Finance Director Patti Beebe directed all department heads to cut their budgets by 10 percent.

Cuts included an across-the-board elimination of all employees' 3 percent salary raises and implementation of five unpaid furlough days for each city worker. Negotiations with the union to implement the salary freeze began in May 2012 as city leaders worked to produce the 2012-13 fiscal year budget.

The union's three proposals to find savings in other areas than the wage freeze were deemed unworkable.

To revise the contract, it was necessary to declare an impasse had been reached in the negotiations, which would automatically send the matter before a "special magistrate" for binding resolution. The city declared the impasse in writing on Sept. 27, 2012.

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