A show of solidarity, that’s why almost 100 Savannah firefighters gathered in downtown Savannah this afternoon.
Firefighters and members of the IAFF 574 Union met at Johnson square to stand together and march to City Hall.
They are at odds with the city over contract negotiations. One sticking point is allowing Captains to be in the Union, the other, firefighters’ pay.
“Captains are what they describe as management, but they are hourly employees that ride the rigs as we do, perform rank and file function,” explained Bob Milie, President of IAFF 574 They pull ceilings, pull hose, pull people out of burning buildings, they perform those functions. The pay, all we want to do is have a clear and defined non-binding framework that allows employees, incumbent or recruit, to see how they can progress through their career.”
Firefighters tell News 3 work more hours than any other City worker, about 56 a week, but its been six years since they agreed on a contract with the city, and got raises, and something needs to be done. They say currently, Savannah is involved in a second rate compensation and classification system.
“What we are asking is not to be classified with every other city employee,” explains Milie. “We are seeking independent treatment, not as better than any other city bureau or entity, but recognition for the work we do and public safety as a whole.”
Thursday, Savannah’s City Attorney wrote an opinion that the City is involved in a contract with the Union, and should negotiate “in good faith” with them. While the Union wants City Council to hear the entire case and make their own decisions, right now Savannah says council does not have authority in this case.
Firefighters say something needs to be decided soon, at the latest by when the City Budget is finalized in November.