The president of the of the union that represents the county's airport firefighters says they deserve higher wages and they're hoping the New Year brings a new round of contract talks with the county.
They respond to fires, medical calls and hazardous spills -- just like any other firefighter -- plus they also deal with issues related to the airport. But airport firefighters say they don't get the respect they deserve.
The Monroe County Airport Firefighters Union says its 21 members at Greater Rochester International Airport have been working without a contract since 2012 and it's costing the county some of its best and brightest.
The union president says it has really hurt morale.
"We're looking to be given some respect in what we do," says Paul Miller, union president. "The county shows very little respect for what we do."
Rachel Spotts: "Why do you think that is?"
Miller: "I don't know."
"We do pretty much everything that any other fire department would do," adds Miller, "structure fires, car accidents, medical calls, spills, anything like that plus we have the responsibility of the aircraft themselves."
Miller says they were among the first to respond when threats were made to the airport last Thursday. He says these men and women keep the airport safe, but they're not being treated fairly. He says their paid well below other firefighters in the county.
"The closest fire department to us, their compensation is about $19,000 ahead of ours," says Miller.
The director of communications for Monroe County responded Monday saying they did offer the union a contract two years ago, but never got a response: "The county respects the great work our airport firefighters do every day and we look forward to settling a contract which honors that commitment while protecting our community's taxpayers. Our negotiating team stands ready to receive a response to the county's previous offer."
Spotts: "Why is that? Why no counter?"
Miller: "When we've offered a counter, they've told us no that it wasn't something they were going to talk about. We told them to get back to us when they're serious about negotiating and we haven't heard anything since then."
The union hopes to renew talks with the county in the next week or so. Keep in mind this isn't the first time contract issues have come up between the county and area unions. The most notable being the contract dispute between the sheriff's road patrol union and the county that has also persisted.
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