Birmingham Firefighters Challenge Unannounced 20% Pay Cut

Birmingham, Alabama firefighters filed suit against the city last Friday afternoon, September 24, 2010, hours after the city cut their pay by 20% without bargaining or giving them notice. According to one news source, firefighters learned about the cuts when they received their pay checks on Friday morning.

The unannounced pay cuts were supposedly to offset two years of erroneous pay schedules that the city claims impacted approximately 600 firefighters.  The city alleges that the salaries paid to firefighters were too high because the city incorrectly set their hourly pay rate the same as for police officers…. even though they do receive  the same weekly pay… because firefighters work more hours.

The firefighters union, IAFF Local 117, filed the lawsuit against the city and Mayor William Bell over pay cuts alleging that the Mayor cut the salaries illegally and unannounced.  Here is a copy of the union’s complaint. Download Birmingham Complaint. You will notice the allegations in the law suit sound quite a bit different than the mayor’s version of events.

This suit is not the only one facing the city of Birmingham over firefighter wages. In August, firefighter Michael Carroll filed a Federal class action lawsuit against the city alleging Fair Labor Standards violation over the way hours are calculated.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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