A new contract for Lackawanna’s firefighters will have to wait until another day.
The Lackawanna City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to table voting on a proposed deal with the Lackawanna Fire Fighters IAFF.
Council members said they wanted to better understand the fiscal implications of all the city’s new contracts with its union before approving a contract for the firefighters – the only bargaining unit that doesn’t have a done deal yet.
City Council President Henry R. Pirowski – who on Tuesday also proposed implementing a citywide hiring freeze – expressed concern that the city was hurtling toward a deficit because of its increased costs.
“In two years, the city’s looking at layoffs, to put it mildly,” he said.
Pirowski said he hoped putting in place a hiring freeze now would help prevent future layoffs.
Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski, reached by telephone following the meeting, said the city is not in a fiscal bind.
“Revenue is growing,” he said. “We are looking into other measures to reduce day-to-day operational expenditures.”
The firefighters negotiated a tentative deal with the city that calls for retroactive pay raises of 2 percent annually going back to 2009, as well as raises of 2.75 percent this year and in 2014 and of 3 percent in 2015 and 2016.
Back pay alone would cost taxpayers nearly $700,000, and the raises this year would amount to an additional $378,000 in firefighter pay.
The city already has approved other deals that included back pay and raises for public works employees, police officers and clerical staff.
William Tojek, the Lackawanna firefighters union president, balked at the prospect of the firefighters being denied a new contract while other city workers received a deal.
“It’s time for us to get a raise and not be the scapegoat,” he said.
Pirowski responded by asking whether the leaders of city unions have informed their members that paying for the raises will likely require layoffs.