LC Firefighters voting on counter offer to city

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Here at the Training Center on Common Street cadets train to become firefighters. Inside, firefighters come and go to cast ballots on the contract presented to union members.

Though the city has not changed its offer, Union President Wil Veuleman says they've made some changes. "We determined some different areas of changes we might be able to make to the previous offer from the city and we're voting on that counter offer now to propose to the city and to the city council which we think will be accepted due to the fact that it's cost neutral, changes that we're asking for."

Union officials won't discuss the changes in the proposal. "I can't reveal any of that, anything of that nature right now," says Veuleman.

The voting will continue from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

Administrator John Cardone says the city may be agreeable to changes that don't cost them any money. "They addressed some issues about maybe making some minor changes to the contract that would help be a little bit fairer to all the employees of the fire department or for clarification and they asked if the city would consider that. And the city's position is, 'Yeah we would consider it,'  as long as it really didn't have any monetary cost to the city."

Regardless of how the union votes the Lake Charles City Council is expected to resolve the situation with firefighters at the meeting Wednesday. Says Cardone, "We're going to give a pay raise to our firemen and it'll either be done without a contract or with a contract."

City officials say the proposed contract is for one year. The city offer includes an eight per cent increase in the starting pay for a firefighter, while also requiring measures to bring down overtime.

The ballots will be counted soon after the voting ends at seven tomorrow night.

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