Battle Over San Diego Firefighters' Pay Heats Up

More than 100 San Diego firefighters staged a rally Monday afternoon outside of Mayor Jerry Sander's office, as part of their fight for a pay raise.

Sanders is offering no wage increase for firefighters who have gone without raises for two years. On Friday, he announced that a four percent raise would cost the city $4 million a year, money Sanders said the city does not have.

Sanders justified a nine percent raise for police officers on grounds that an exodus to better-paying agencies has sapped the department's field strength.

During the noon hour Monday, about 150 firefighters gathered on the plaza below city hall to air their complaints publicly about the mayor's budget priorities.

Frank De Clerq, vice president of International Association of Firefighters Local 145 said, "It's an insult, and we're not going to stand for it."

The firefighters said they can't afford another year without raises, and some fear the prospect of having to move.

Debra Waugaman, the wife of a firefighter said, "We're stuck. We love San Diego, but you know, L.A.'s making the money."

The city council reviewed the mayor's contract proposal for all five city labor unions Monday afternoon.

Council President Scott Peters said the firefighter "deserve more than a 'zero percent raise'." After a long discussion, the council decided to take the issue up again Tuesday morning.

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