Thursday, January 29, 2004

Norwood rejects contract negotiated for firefighters

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NORWOOD - City Council has rejected a three-year contract proposal for firefighters and paramedics that had been negotiated by the previous mayor and safety service director.

The proposal would have given firefighters and paramedics raises of 4 percent this year and 6 percent in each of the next two years.

Council unanimously voted to reject the contract and to reopen negotiations. with the firefighters and paramedics.

Council members said they're pleased with the fire department's quality of service, but the city can't afford the pay hikes.

"Unfortunately, there's just no way we could pay for this," Councilman Keith Moore said

"We can't do it. That's the bottom line. It's not a question of what's fair."

The contract would have cost the city $1.8 million over three years. Norwood faces a projected deficit of $2.5 million this year.

Firefighters Local 445, which represents 58 Norwood firefighters and paramedics, might file an unfair labor practices complaint, said Rickie Paul, union president.

He said City Council had violated a requirement to act on a final contract proposal within 30 days of receiving it. He said the city received the final proposal on Dec. 23, but didn't act on it until Tuesday.

"We feel we have a valid contract agreement," Paul said.

The contract was negotiated by former Mayor Victor Schneider and former Safety Service Director Jack Cameron.


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