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IAFF seeks pay raises

Immediately following Thursday night’s Demopolis City Council meeting, members of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3669 held an impromptu meeting with mayor Mike Grayson and the council regarding pay raises.
IAFF Local 3669 consists of members of the Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department. Representing the group was Thomas Malone, the IAFF district field representative based in Montgomery.
“We just wanted to sit and make discussions; that’s all,” Malone said. “The intent was to start out and request a meeting with the mayor to discuss some of the issues on the fire department, not at a public venue.
“We want to talk about the salary level, where people are getting promoted and are not getting any increase in pay. We are looking at staffing, with two people on a rig. We are just getting into this, and since they are in budget hearings, we were thinking we could get an opportunity to sit down and discuss some of the issues we had before they voted on the budget.”
The group discussed pay raises in the past between the Demopolis Police Department and the Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department. Talks became emotional at times and broke down when one of the DFRD employees spoke in defiance to Grayson.
“Sometimes, emotions run high, especially with firefighters, when it comes down to pay,” said DFRD chief Ronnie Few on Friday. “Fire department administration has probably put them through challenges that they’ve never been through, which is working as hard as we can make them work and moving the department as quickly as we could to get to certain benchmarks.
“In doing that, they look at it like, ‘If you value me, then pay me.’ Sometimes, on the city’s behalf, we can only pay so much, but last night, when you talk about somebody else getting an increase and they aren’t getting one, they say, ‘What did I not do?’”
Few was confident that negotiations would continue prior to the passage of the city’s 2010-11 budget.
“The budget process is not over; it’s just begun,” he said. “I think that our city needs to look at our fire department as a whole.”
Grayson appeared to be surprised on Thursday to hear that the fire department was unionized.
“They have a union here. I knew that when I got here,” Few said. “I think this pay issue probably brought them out.”
Grayson said the procedure would follow its due course.
“This is being handled internally, and upon conclusion of that, a statement will be made regarding any action taken,” Grayson said on Friday.