For Immediate Release
City rejects Union proposals and Federal Grant to maintain services.
November 2, 2012
In a meeting yesterday between Union officials and the City administration, the City rejected concessions offered by the Union and declined a Federal Grant to maintain Fire Department staffing. Despite concerns within the Fire Department and amongst its’ members concessions were offered by the Lincoln Park Fire Fighters Association to lower daily staffing requirements, increase health care cost sharing and reduce pension benefits for new hires. This offer would have been unprecedented as it would have saved the City an estimated savings of $980,000 and changed provisions already guaranteed in the Fire Fighter’s current contract.
The concessions had been proposed after the City had insisted that concessions would be necessary in order for them to accept a $597,000 SAFER Grant which had been awarded by FEMA. The Grant which had been awarded to maintain adequate Fire Department staffing had already been changed and approved by FEMA to meet the City’s previous demands for savings.
By rejecting the concessions proposed and the SAFER Grant the City has turned down a savings of an estimated 1.6 million dollars over the next two years. The City has instead proposed reductions in the number of fire fighters working each day, taking apparatus out of service, elimination of pay and benefits and reductions in response coverage as a way to offset budget concerns.
The City has declined proposals for shared or consolidated fire services with neighboring communities or allowing the Fire Department to provide a transporting ambulance service to create revenue, maintain staffing and offset employee costs.
“The City’s actions have clearly demonstrated that this Administration is concerned only with gutting the fire service and diminishing services to our citizens regardless of the alternatives” says Union President Steve Heim. “We have laid out a blueprint of how the City could move forward within its’ budget constraints and still maintain adequate service and the City has refused to put in the work necessary to avoid these safety cuts.”
The Union plans to continue presenting proposals to the City and will be working with citizens groups to get out its message. “We believe that the citizens have spoken clearly in the last two millage proposals. By an eighty percent majority they have voted to maintain public safety. They do not want fire or police services cut period!” said Heim.