Calling Mayor Palmer DePaulis' latest salary offer "a bigger slap in the face than the last one," Salt Lake firefighter union boss Charlie Quick said on Thursday that a strike is the only alternative left to the union.
Breaking a promise with DePaulis, Quick, head of the International Firefighers Association Local 1645, detailed the second salary offer city negotiator John Gisler made to his union Thursday morning.The city's first offer included a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment and a 2 to 2.75 percent merit raise for all three city employee unions - a $1.5 million impact on the budget for the city's 2,100 workers.
Quick said the city has retracted its 2 percent COLA and agreed instead to pay the amount normally paid by firefighters into their pension plan. That amount is equal to the 2 percent COLA and thereby increases take-home pay.
But the change also saves the city money, Quick said, because the city no longer would have to make a matching contribution to the employee's pension fund.
Quick conceded the new offer results in a bigger paycheck for firefighters, but argued that the savings enjoyed by the city should translate into more employee raises.
"This is no change in position, it's merely been a stall tactic that isn't going to work," he said.
DePaulis declined to respond to the union's move, saying he and the unions had agreed not to negotiate in the press.
An angry Quick said the offer has irked union members and said that a strike could be in the making.
"At this point in time whether the membership is willing to do that, I don't know. But I think . . . the only alternative is to withhold service," he said.
Quick threatened that firefighters will instigate "an official boycott of Salt Lake City." The AFL-CIO will be contacted for support, and shoppers will be asked not to shop in the city's downtown, in sympathy with the firefighters, he said.
The firefighters union will also be contacting convention associations and travel bureaus to discourage them from coming to Salt Lake City and a letter will by sent to the U.S. Olympic Committee. The city intends to bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics.
"Unlike the police, we are going to ask that the Olympics not come here because Salt Lake City is unwilling to keep its commitments," Quick said.
The Salt Lake Police Association said it sent a letter to the USOC to correct what it termed a smear campaign conducted by DePaulis during a recent USOC visit.
"We want to apologize to the City Council and the citizens of the city for these tactics . . . but I'm left with no alternative," Quick said.