Birmingham firefighters plea for help

By Ashley Nix

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Dozens of firefighters showed up to City Hall Tuesday, showing displeasure with 20 percent pay cuts.  

Union President Don Baker made a passionate plea to city councilors, telling them he would fight for the firefighters who represent the city.  The problem is now, who, if anyone will fix the problem?

"You want us to do it for free?  You want us to run into burning buildings?" Union President Don Baker asked councilors.  "Save your grandmother, granddaddy your mother your child?"   

Amidst clapping, members of city council didn't comment a lot because of ongoing litigation, but Council President Roderick Royal did say this.  

"That is unacceptable, by anyone's standard.  I would work nowhere for two weeks and get $13 and that's the bottom line," Royal said.  "Folks got to pay their water bill, light bill, and their God-forsaken sewer bill."

And then, to add more turmoil to a drama-filled situation, Attorney Michael Choy, who represents the city in the firefighter lawsuit, held a seemingly side conversation with Baker in the hallway at City Hall.  Baker would not elaborate on what was said, only to say he and Choy had a conversation.

So what's the next step?  What can council do?  Will they fix the problem?  The city council says they don't have the authority.  The mayor's office says it was just fixing a problem caused by a previous mayor.  Baker says he isn't buying that.  

"You're putting people out of their houses, cars you're taking food off their children's table."

The City Council will meet at 2 p.m. Wednesday in City Council Chambers to discuss the issue further.

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