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Contract dispute may be affecting fire department recruits

Many Louisiana residents are no doubt grateful and supportive of their local fire departments. Should something happen to cause a staff shortage at a local firehouse, the potential negative effects could be far-reaching. In another state, this seems to the case in a situation involving a contract dispute between local firefighters and the city.

Apparently, the city has been trying to find ways to cut costs. Some of the local firefighters have said that the safety of community members may now be at stake because the city's budget cuts have negatively affected recruitment numbers at the fire department. It appears that a contentious battle has been ongoing for the past year regarding the firefighters' contract.

One spokesperson said the department has lost many quality firefighters to other jobs that offer greater benefits. Union representatives have stated that there were approximately 50 new recruits some 10 years ago. Those numbers have apparently dwindled to just seven new recruits in 2015. Reportedly, the firefighters agreed to concessions in the contract that would allow the city to cut $1 million from the budget. However, for unknown reasons, the city appears to have rejected that offer.

Union workers were also accused of abusing sick leave and switching shifts in ways that may have compromised employee safety. Spokespersons for the firefighters deny such allegations. They also say they have documented proof to show they used less vacation time and have had no fatigue-related incidents due shift changes. The two groups are slated to meet in the near future to determine whether they can find common ground to resolve the current contract dispute. Obtaining agreeable solutions in similar Louisiana business situations often hinges upon skilled and experienced legal representation.

Source: weartv.com, "Destin firefighters at odds over contract dispute", Christopher Saul, July 26, 2016

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