SEATTLE (AP) - By a vote of 468-312, Seattle firefighters have
said no to the city's offer of a new contract, which Mayor Greg
Nickels called "fair."
They have been working without a contract since January.
"We negotiated a contract that was fair and would have resolved
one of the union's top priorities of establishing four-person
crews," Nickels said in a statement after Thursday's vote.
"We're all a little bit surprised it didn't pass," said Paul
Atwater, president of Seattle Fire Fighters Union Local 27.
The city's contract offer would have put four crew members on
every engine, but would have required two extra shifts per
firefighter per year.
Atwater said the firefighters balked at working the extra
"Every station we went into, we heard, 'I don't like two extra
shifts,"' he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The firefighters' contract expired at the end of 2004. About the
same time, the union began pushing for the city to ensure that
every engine company in the department have a crew of four.
The union went so far as to propose a ballot measure that, if
passed, would require the city to have four-person crews.
City and fire officials responded that the only way to staff the
engines with four crew members was to alter the work schedules of
firefighters and have them work additional shifts.
City and union officials said they expect to meet next week to
plan the next round of contract negotiations.
Information from: Seattle Post-Intelligencer,

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)