Lake Charles firefighters ask to negotiate for new contract

LC Fire Fighters Union seeks to enter contract negotiations

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Lake Charles Fire Fighters were recognized before the City Council Tuesday night for a rescue that saved a man's life on December 18th.

"This person when they pulled him out... He was not breathing... He was dead and they brought him out," said Chief Keith Murray, Lake Charles Fire Department.

The Lake Charles Fire Fighters Union 561 told the council it's just another reason it's time for contract talks to resume.

"So this should just seal the envelope to say these guys that work hard and never let the citizens of Lake Charles down deserve a contract," said Chief Chris Carroll, LCFD Fire Fighters Union Public Information Officer.

Rather than go back into negotiations, Mayor Randy Roach suggested a "memorandum of understanding" that would address the union's concerns, but not pay.

"At this time, I suggest we look at that as an alternative than doing formal contract negotiations," said Mayor Roach.

Having read the union's "wish list," there were mixed reviews on the council.

"I understand about people wanting to have a contract so that there would be some solidarity," said Mary Morris, Lake Charles City Council.

"You have some stipulations in there that would warrant full consideration and so with that thought in mind - a memorandum of understanding is what I would propose and agree with the mayor on," said Rodney Geyen, Lake Charles City Council.

Among the union's top concerns: vacation time, work schedules and longevity pay. However, the union has decided to put pay raises on the back burner -- at least for now.

"We are going to wait to see what the economy does and if the economy picks up we are sure that the mayor will seek it upon himself and the city council to give us an appropriate raise at that time," said Carroll.

Despite not always being on the same page, the union feels progress is being made and a memorandum of understanding could possibly work.

"I think the union and the city has mended a lot of fences and we are getting to that point right now where we are going to work diligently with the mayor and hopefully whatever agreement they come up with that it will fit both sides," said Carroll.

Mayor Roach plans to meet with the Fire Fighters Union Wednesday morning. Both sides expect it take a few more weeks to iron out the details and perhaps come with a document they can all agree on to submit to the full council for approval.

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