Firefighters, city head to arbitration after unions reject no-raise contract

March 08, 1998|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

The city firefighter unions have rejected an offer that would have given them a contract without a raise, prompting both sides to head for arbitration.

Ninety-five percent of the 400 union members who cast votes Friday rejected the city's contract offer, which included a 2 percent Christmas bonus. The unions are seeking a 3.5 percent raise.

Capt. Stephen G. Fugate, president of the Baltimore Fire Officers Union Local 964, said yesterday that he thought it was "very cynical" for the city to offer one-time holiday bonuses instead of salary increases.

"Around Christmastime, everyone can use a few more dollars," said Fugate. "But you don't trade off a regular pay increase for a holiday bonus. That's not fair."

The city also has offered to move up longevity pay increases for firefighters who have served more than 10 years.

Clinton Coleman, spokesman for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, declined to comment on the dispute.

"I make it a policy not to comment on ongoing negotiations," said Coleman.

The city's 1,750 firefighters and officers have received pay raises averaging 2 percent a year over the past five years.

The fire unions and the city administration have only gone to arbitration five times in the past 21 years, most recently in 1994.

Voting was held Friday by the two unions that represent the city's firefighters and officers. Firefighters belonging to Local 734, which represents rank-and-file members of the department, cast ballots at the Baltimore Fire Academy on Pulaski Highway. Members of the Fire Officers Union voted at the union hall on Linwood Avenue in Canton.

The salary dispute is expected to be decided by a panel of three arbitrators April 25 through 28.

Pub Date: 3/08/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.