The city of Hays is at impasse with the International Association of Fire Fighters union regarding wages.
IAFF, which represents 18 Hays firefighters, is proposing pay increases of 5 percent for firefighters and 7 percent for fire lieutenants — a collective increase of $47,500. IAFF also wants to increase both groups’ maximum earning potential by 5 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
According to Assistant Hays City Manager Paul Briseno, the city has proposed a one-time 2 percent bonus for firefighters, a total of $17,500 in 2015.
The two other employee unions, SEIU Local No. 513 and Fraternal Order of Police, representing about 78 employees, have tentatively agreed to the city’s proposal. All non-union employees also would receive the same 2 percent one-time bonus. The estimated expense in 2015 for all city employees, union and non-union, is projected between $112,000 and $120,000.
Briseno said Hays firefighters have received a pay increase every year since 1989, with the exception of 2011, when city sales tax revenues were flagging.
“We have to live within our means and react to the local economy, and right now the local economy is down when it comes to sales tax,” Briseno said. “We appreciate these firefighters’ service and dedication to the community, as we do all our employees. However, the IAFF pay increase proposal is not sustainable”:
Briseno added the city has a “cushion built up for a one-time bonus for all employees” because of “good budgeting.”
The two groups have been meeting since March. The next step in the IAFF contract process is making a mediation request through the Kansas Public Employee Relations Board.
The city of Hays has a total of 181 employees.