Firefighter contracts under negotiation
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Alice Campbell Havre Daily News [email protected]
Havre firefighters are the lowest paid in the state of Montana in first-class cities, according to a survey completed by the local 601 Havre Firefighters Union. The survey results, compiled from the union calling others in the state, "found that the fire department ... was paid substantially less than other fire departments in the state," Tim Evens, an engineer with the Havre department said this morning. He declined to divulge specifics "because of the ongoing contract negotiation," he said. The pay for Havre firefighters begins at $24,807.96 for a probationary worker without benefits, EMT or overtime factored in. The highest ranking firefighter, a captain, makes $42,652.44 in base pay, said Annette Swinney, Havre's deputy city clerk. EMTs make an additional $988.80 per year, and EMT Intermediates make $1,680 annually, she said. Evens, who is handling contract negotiations with the city for 15 union-member firefighters, said the workers have been performing their jobs since June 30, 2008, when their old contracts ran out without a new one finalized. "We felt that we weren't making any headway," Evens said. "The city and us were quite far apart on our negotiations. "It's just a difference of opinion," he added, saying that the wages and benefits package constitutes the major hold up with negotiations. Some wording changes have been made as well, he said. Because of that difference in opinions, a mediator, Paul Melvin, has been hired to iron out the issues during a June 30 meeting at 10 a.m. The location of The meeting is not known at this time. Evens said the firefighters felt that a mediator would help make headway toward a contract amenable to both sides. Mayor Bob Rice was not available for comment this morning.