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Buffalo Firefighters Protest Stalled Contract Talks

10:42 PM, Mar 15, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- After eleven years of negotiations, the Buffalo Firefighters Union and the city still have not been able to come up with a new contract agreement.

Friday morning, the Buffalo Fire Department blessed two new trucks to help firefighters keep the city safe
while off duty firefighters protested right outside.

The firefighters' union is upset it has been without a new contract since 2002. And, while Mayor Byron Brown says the city has offered union leaders new contracts over the years, the two sides still can not seem to come to an agreement.

Union members continued their protest outside the Buffalo Irish Center as the mayor arrived for the annual luncheon.

"They have not given me a complete proposal at all," says union president Dan Cunningham.

"We've offered the firefighters union several contracts. The first contract we offered was in 2007. It was a 29-percent increase in pay for firefighters. Later, we voluntarily increased our firefighters' pay by 5-point-5 percent. Three-thousand dollars to each firefighter," says Mayor Brown.

But, union leaders say that is not good enough. They say Buffalo firefighters make a base pay of $53,000 a year. They say that is $13,000 less than firefighters in Rochester.

"The sticking point right now is he doesn't want to pay us. He would like us to give up minimum manning. At one point in our negotiations, they wanted minimum manning, which means for the safety or our firefighters, four men on every piece of apparatus, a national standard. He wanted us to give that up. Save money," says Cunningham.

"So, for you it's less about pay and more about the safety of your guys?" asked Channel 2's Kelly Dudzik.

"No, it's about money. We haven't had a pay raise in eleven years. It's sad when people that are not risking their lives every day are making as much money as a firefighter," replied Cunningham.

The mayor says he would also like to see contract negotiations result in raises for Buffalo's firefighters.

"A contract negotiation has got to be win-win for all parties. It's got to be a win for our hard working firefighters. They deserve a contract. We want to see them get a contract, but it's got to be a win-win for the tax payers of the City of Buffalo, as well," says the mayor.

Mayor Brown says there is another negotiation session with the firefighters union this Monday. Union members claim the city has cancelled several recent meetings.

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