Firefighters rally outside city hall, pushing for higher wages amid contract talks with city

“The city continues to stall and offer us unacceptable proposals,” the firefighter union’s district vice president said
Firefighter union rallies over city bargaining
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 10:47 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2023 at 10:48 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tallahassee firefighters marched to City Hall Wednesday, trying to put pressure on city leaders in the midst of ongoing contract negotiations.

The firefighter’s union has been negotiating with the city for eight months now. Their main demand is higher wages.

Mike Bellamy, a local firefighter and the district vice president of Florida Professional Firefighters, told WCTV the starting gross pay for a Tallahassee firefighter is around $45,000 a year. But, after deductions, he said that drops to less than $30,000.

“We’re here to sound the alarm,” Bellamy said at Wednesday’s rally. “We need the community—we need you to support the firefighters, your firefighters.”

TFD members were joined by several firefighters from other counties, as well as City Commissioners Jack Porter and Jeremy Matlow.

“I’ve served on the City Commission for five years,” Matlow said, “And I’ve never seen negotiations go this way. I’ve never seen such an unwillingness to get a contract done.”

Many firefighters say they have had to take on second jobs to make ends meet, on top of already working overtime at TFD. Their spouses say these long hours mean little time left for family.

“Our firefighters deserve a fair wage and a livable wage,” Crystal Pruitt, the spouse of a firefighter, said. “They do not need to work 24-hour, 48-hour shifts and then go to a second full-time job. They should be able to go home to their families.”

WCTV reached out to the city for comment. They referred us to Deputy Fire Chief Richard Jones. He said the city has “put forth a strong proposal.” Union members say that proposal falls short.

Bellamy said the city has offered to meet with the firefighter’s union on November 30th. He said the union planned to send a final proposal to the city Wednesday.

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