Memphis firefighters brace for wage battle - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis firefighters brace for wage battle

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(WMC-TV) – Long accustomed to the heat of battle, firefighters say they're hunkering down for a wage war.

Like the Memphis Police Association, the firefighters union fought a 4.6 percent pay cut back in 2011. Since then, they've been fighting to get it back -- and ramping up the pressure this budget season.

"Do not let this administration play politics with public safety," Memphis Fire Fighters Association president Tommy Malone said in a video posted to the union's YouTube channel. "It's not right. It's not fair. And it does not make sense."

In his 622 million dollar budget, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton proposed a 2.3 percent pay raise for all city employees come January 2014. He says unforgiving financial situation prohibits the full 4.6.

"Gonna be rougher this year because of the drop in property values," Wharton said.

"Oh, I wish we could give it to them, the 4.6 and more. I don't begrudge then. They're worth it. These are just tough times. And if we had the money they would have it. So I have no beef with them whatsoever. And I just wish we had the money."

The city cut six trucks, nine chiefs, and 116 jobs in recent years, according to the union.

Firefighters' last pay raise came in 2009. They argue the city must restore their entire 4.6 percent.

"Where has this money gone?" Malone asks. "This city is not broke."

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