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The Point of No Return

Can Camden, New Jersey get any more dangerous?

That’s a question that city fire fighters don’t want to answer.

Camden fire fighters and members of the City Council are in a tug of war over salaries and benefits.

Mayor Dana Redd says she must close a $26.5 million budget gap and needs for fire fighters to concede some of their benefits. The alternative is ugly and a bitter pill for the oldest paid fire department in New Jersey to swallow.

In December, layoff notices were sent to 67 fire fighters. The city now has 220 fire fighter positions. If the city and fire unions can’t come together on an agreement,  the fire department could lose or demote 15 deputy fire chiefs, four battalion chiefs, 15 fire captains and 44 fire fighters.

The two sides have until January 18 to come to an agreement before the layoffs are implemented.

It’s no secret that public employees in New Jersey are under fire and Camden – like cities throughout the country – has been hit hard economically in recent years. But are some cities using the recession as leverage to force concessions?

Has your local been asked to take reductions or freezes in compensation or benefits to prevent layoffs? Crew size reduction? Station closure? Brownouts?

If your local chose to take such reductions, did you place a time limit on them?

Comments (1) -

  • Raul Garcia (Flint)

    1/11/2011 1:39:48 PM |

    We continue to negotiate in good faith but our city continues to violate our contract. I understand our city has struggled as much or more than most cities. The biggest problem is our city wont listen to some of our suggestions on how to generate revenue or how to manage our overtime. They have ask us to give 15% IN CONCESSIONS and the administration only wants to give 5%. I'm in my 15th year and our Dept. has gone from 250 firefighters to as low as 65 as of March 2010. We have a safer grant that we received in May of 2010 which now has brought us to 102 until 2012. The grant was written by one of our members without the cities help and yet that's not enough. All this and in the last 18 months we have had 14 fire fatalities in our city and one firefighter seriously injured. We've made offers and the city just doesn't care. Our only desire was a no layoff clause for all the concessions. Good Luck and Stay safe.  

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