WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita firefighter negotiators are asking for a big pay increase.
“Yes,” said Ted Bush with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) local 135. “We’re looking at a 30% raise across the board. That would get us to industry standards.”
Does the City have the money?
“I think we have to do something big,” said Wichita City Council member Jeff Blubaugh. “I think we need to be close to that.”
Blubaugh says he and at least two others on council want to make a move on pay.
Bush said they are closer on negotiations. While he won’t give specifics while in negotiations, he says they are not at the 30% mark. Still, he is holding the line on demanding a 30% across-the-board raise for all fire crews.
“Wichita never has the money for it, and that’s what they told us,” said Bush. “We’re still banging at the contract. We’re still working it out. We’re getting a little bit closer.”
Meanwhile, county leaders remain concerned that a large raise in Wichita could take away county firefighters who go to the City for more money.
“They might leave a job where they’ve been here three, four or five years and go to the very bottom at Wichita fire department because the pay is that much higher,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell. “So we do have a problem. We’re going to have to find a way to get this pay up.”
Blubaugh says he’s not sure where the extra millions a year would come from just yet.
“We’ve got to ensure we are taking care of them as well,” said Blubaugh. “A few of us on council have listened in on negotiations to be better plugged in.”
Negotiations between the City and Wichita firefighters continue this week.