Birmingham Police and Firefighter unions calling for 15% raise from city of Birmingham

Birmingham City employee groups push for 15% raises
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 5:34 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Union officials for some Birmingham city employees are demanding higher raises, telling WBRC the 5% raise and merit raises proposed by Mayor Randall Woodfin, are not enough. Birmingham Fraternal Order of Police and Birmingham Firefighter Association Local 117 are calling for a 15% raise.

Birmingham city officials also tell WBRC that the Personnel Board of Jefferson County has approved the 5% pay raise for all city employees. It will be implemented in the coming weeks. The merit and longevity payments for next year’s budget will be voted on in May.

“We are asking for what the mayor promised us,” FOP Trustee Chairman Lawrence Billups said. “We are not satisfied. In order to maintain what the citizens are used to having, we need this pay.”

“The truth is there are fire trucks shut down and if it is close to your house, it’s a big deal,” President of Birmingham Firefighter Association Local 117 Stephen Cook said.

Union officials for the departments said Woodfin’s original plan was to offer the immediate five percent raise and then in next year’s budget, boost pay scales by eliminating the bottom two rungs.

“He was going to remove the bottom two steps, which those steps are 10 percent in total,” Billups said. “Then, place them up top, which would have given us a total of 15 percent. He said that in chambers, so that is what we are asking him to hold his word too.”

Feeling overworked, underpaid, and short staffed, they said conditions for the city’s first responders are grueling.

“We have mandatory overtime,” Cook said. “These guys have mandatory overtime. We already are not allowed to use benefits we earned, our vacation leave time, we can’t use it because we don’t have enough people to cover.”

The Mayor’s final proposal does not include change in the pay scale, but officials said without it, more first responders will quit.

“The issue is that inflation is over seven percent and we are getting a five percent raise,” Cook said. “We are looking to at least meet inflation.”

Mayor Randall Woodfin had the following response:

“I am in constant communication with the FOP president, Otis Luke. I have never promised a 15% raise.”

Councilman Hunter Williams said it is a priority to the city council to pay employees a livable wage that keeps them working in Birmingham, but he said they also have to be able to maintain paying the new salary rate for years to come.

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