BUFFALO, NY – The last time Buffalo Firefighters had a pay raise, a gallon of gas was roughly $1.70.
Now it hovers around $4.
The year was 2001. That is when the firefighter union contract expired.
Hundreds of firefighters and their supporters gathered for a rally on the steps of City Hall on Thursday.
“This has been going on and on and on and off and on for too many years,” said Dan Cunningham, President of Buffalo Professional Firefighters.
They have been close in the past, like in 2007 when the city offered pay raises and the firefighters gave up plastic surgery coverage.
But the agreement was killed in a vote by the union rank and file after the two sides could not come to terms on minimum staffing levels.
Members of the Buffalo Common Council said both sides should be back at the bargaining table soon.
City Comptroller Mark Schroeder gave them some advice.
“Put a wrestling mat down and wrestle for a while. And when you’re tired sit at the table and do the right thing,” he said.
Buffalo teachers, police officers and other city workers are also working without a contract.