Firefighters, city reach agreement in overtime pay dispute

Craig Willman
Craig Willman

By Scott Reynolds - bio | email     
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The fire is out in a nearly decade long legal battle between the city of Louisville and its firefighters. The two sides have reached a settlement on the multi-million dollar overtime pay battle.

The city will shell out $43.5 million to firefighters. The main reason why is that when firefighters are on duty and ready to answer the call, it is usually for 56 hours in a week-long period before they get a string of days off. Their union successfully argued in court that the firefighters should be paid overtime for anything over 40 hours in that weeklong period. The Kentucky Supreme Court agreed and now the sides have come to terms to douse the legal fight once and for all.

"Everyone seems to be pleased and we feel that this will make them whole and put an end to this thing," said Craig Willman, president of Louisville Professional Firefighters Local 345.

The city cannot comment on the deal until firefighters vote on it over the next few days. However, Kerri Richardson, a spokesperson for Mayor Jerry Abramson, told WAVE 3, "We worked very hard with the firefighters team and the next part of the process is for the firefighters to make a decision about the agreement. Next it will go to Metro Council for review and a final decision."

The money, which averages about $50,000 per firefighter before attorneys fees, will be paid in three installments over the next seven months.

"It's something that took us some nine hours of negotiation with the city, which went very well, and as we bring it back to the members, they feel vindicated," Willman said.

The city might dip into its' rainy day fund to pay the firefighters or float some special bonds. The city will likely have to come up with some more money soon because another group of more than 100 retired firefighters sued separately through a local attorney. Those negotiations are still ongoing, but if similar settlement to this one is reached that would cost the city another $7 million or so.

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