Archive for Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lawrence firefighters union wants to renegotiate pay for 2015

May 8, 2014


Lawrence firefighters aren't yet sounding a full alarm that they are underpaid compared to their counterparts in area cities, but they are starting to become concerned that may be the case.

The local firefighters union has exercised a clause in its current contract that requires Lawrence City Hall to hold a new set of negotiations on firefighter wages for 2015.

"The city has a stated policy that it wants wages to remain competitive with other departments in the area," said Ryan Hornberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1596. "It is an important issue because the departments that don't stay competitive have some issues recruiting."

Hornberger said the union hasn't yet conducted a study comparing Lawrence wages to those in the Kansas City metro area and other departments in the region. He said the need for such a study was one of the reasons the union decided to exercise its right to reopen negotiations.

The union currently is in the third year of a four-year contract. The upcoming negotiations will be for wages in 2015, the final year of the contract. As currently approved, the contract calls for a 1 percent general wage adjustment for members of the union. That's less than the 1.5 percent general wage adjustments union members received in 2013 and 2014, Hornberger said.

Diane Stoddard, an assistant city manager who is part of the city's negotiating team, said she hopes to conclude the negotiations by July. The pay issue will be important as city commissioners craft a 2015 budget, which must be completed by August.

Stoddard said that the 1 percent general wage adjustment currently in the contract would apply to all members of the union, but that may not be the only raise that those individuals receive. Individuals also could be eligible for a 2.5 percent or 5 percent wage adjustment based on the results of their employee evaluations. Some members, however, are not eligible for those merit increases because they have topped out on the city salary scale, Stoddard said.

Each 1 percent general wage adjustment for the fire union adds about $90,000 to the city's budget, Stoddard estimated.

The City Commission has appointed Commissioner Bob Schumm to serve as its representative on the city's negotiating team. Ultimately, the City Commission will be responsible for approving any changes in the contract.

The union has a membership of 105, Hornberger said. It negotiates wage and other workplace issues for all members of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical that have a rank of lieutenant and below.

The Lawrence Police Officers Association also is in the third year of a four-year contract. The members of that association also are scheduled to receive a 1 percent general wage adjustment in 2015. Stoddard said the Police Officers Association has notified the city that it will not seek to renegotiate the final year of its contract.


Dave Trabert 3 years, 8 months ago

From the City of Lawrence payroll listing just posted to

Fire Chief $117,272 Fire Engineer Paramedic $112,435 Fire Lieutenant Paramedic $112,011 Fire Captain $110,075

Julius Nolan 3 years, 8 months ago

Understand Dave, no employee, no matter what skill level working for government or for that matter any business should ever be paid more than state mandated minimum wage. That's the official Koch line, which you are very well paid to parrot constantly on any and every issue. Maybe that is exactly what the Kochs should pay you. Would you still spout all their lies for that wage?

Bob Smith 3 years, 8 months ago

We can just make stuff up now? Juluis is really ahead of the curve on this new development.

James Howlette 3 years, 8 months ago

Don't be so modest. You were clearly the trendsetter.

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 8 months ago

I would rather have their burden then the one you place on the state and it's people.

David Reber 3 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for sharing, Mr. Trabert. Looks to me like those people DEFINATELY need a raise. I see you didn't include your own salary. Or who pays it.

Also interesting that you only shared the salaries of the top command positions. Why not share the starting salary? Or even the average fire/medical salary? Might those not look so big, therefore not create the impression you're always trying to create?

ps - I'd love to see you don some firefighter clothes, carry some heavy firefighting equiptment, and go to work in a burning building. Bet you wouldn't last two minutes.

RJ Johnson 3 years, 8 months ago

Darin, Are you kidding me?? These guys and gals go out there and risk their lives, work 24 hours shifts, weekends, nights, and holidays and you think they should be paid that of a school teacher??

Julius Nolan 3 years, 8 months ago

Way off, just read another of his rants on a different thread.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 8 months ago

They carry burned and dead people out of burning buildings, they respond to car accidents that are so horrific they are the stuff of nightmares for the rest of their lives, they come to our aid when we are terrified and incoherent with fear and grief. They share that with us and do so with grace and fortitude. To all the first responders I say a profound thank you.

The people of Lawrence must be aware that you absolutely deserve to be paid according to what you do and do so very well. You should leave your family who are worried about you to go out and serve other families and then be told, sorry we can't pay you what you are worth? No.

The people of Lawrence should let the powers that be know that we have the backs of our first responders and are behind them and a wage increase.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

City manager received a sweet increase. Give the firefighters and the emergency medical people a raise as well absolutely. Don't play the ALEC/Koch union busting game thank you.

Why does the city feel it must shortchange our hard workers?

Bob Smith 3 years, 8 months ago

I swear, if there was a story about the joys of underwater basket weaving on this website, somebody would drag an ALEC reference into the comments. Lighten up, Francis!

Julius Nolan 3 years, 8 months ago

Curious, Bob, been on the Koch payroll long?

Bob Smith 3 years, 8 months ago

About as long as you've been cashing those checks from Soros.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 8 months ago

Somebody post when a Lawrence firefighter can retire, and what rate do they retire at.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

ALEC is no friend to wages or taxpayers and certainly anything but ethical.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.