After three years of strong advocacy work by Huntsville, AL Local 1833 leaders, the City of Huntsville enacted a revised pay plan ensuring fire fighters will now make equitable wages. The changes gave most Local 1833 members between a 6 and 25 percent raise.
“I am very proud of the hard work Local 1833 President Hunter Robinson and his team put in to resolve this issue on behalf of their members,” said Dave Harer, Professional Fire Fighters of Alabama president. “Not only have many of the issues with the pay plan been fixed, but the raise in compensation puts Huntington fifth in the state for wages, which helps morale, recruitment, and retention.”
The issues date back to 2019 when the city manager created and implemented a new pay scale for city employees. While the plan included several pay increases, it soon became clear that differences in pay raise percentages, seniority, and other variables considered.
Local 1833 found more than 185 pay inequities, including several drivers whose salaries were not calculated correctly and supervisor-level employees making less than those they supervised.
Not only did this cause frustration among existing employees, but the discrepancies also added to the fire department’s recruitment and retention problems.
“Huntsville is ranked number one in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2022-2023 Best Places to Live list based on affordability, desirability, and quality of life,” said Local 1833 Vice President Paul Crumbley. “But nobody wanted to join our department and stay because the department paid lower than departments of similar size, and the new plan created so many wage issues.”
Collective bargaining would have likely flagged and resolved the issues earlier. Instead, it was on Local 1833 leaders to identify all the inaccuracies and work with the city to make it right.
Once Local 1833 leaders collected the necessary data, they worked with the city administration to amend the plan. The process was not a smooth one; Local 1833 found 52 mistakes in one draft of the revised plan.
The final agreement comes with a price tag of $3 million.
“It was frustrating at times, but we kept our heads steady and remained determined to work with the city until the issues with the pay plan were fixed,” said Robinson. “All we ever wanted was to receive fair treatment. With these revisions, I believe we achieved that goal.”