ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— A statewide minimum wage increase that went into effect this year never came for Raton firefighters after city officials said they were unaware that the new law overruled the contract they had with the firefighters union. Now state unions are calling for appropriate raises.
“It’s an honor for them to serve, but at the same time—just compensate them correctly, that’s all we’re asking,” said Robert Sanchez, president of the New Mexico Professional Fire Fighters Association.
“So it looks like the city of Raton is refusing to pay their minimum wage status,” Sanchez added.
A contract that the city of Ration entered with the firefighters union last summer shows entry-level firefighters make $8.87 an hour, which is less than the state’s new minimum of $9 an hour.
“Our firefighters, we feel like are paid a competitive way they are represented employees,” said Raton City Manager Scott Berry.
Berry said because of their unique 56-hour weeks, it’s hard to compare that hourly rate.
“That doesn’t tell the whole story. That employee is close to $13 an hour and that’s really an employee that’s at our lowest level of the collective bargaining agreement,” Berry said.
Berry said he doesn’t know how the raises will impact the taxpayers.
“We know that there’s no revenue source that goes with this increase or legislation,” he said.
The city manager said those entry-level employees will get that minimum wage bump and back pay for this month. They will spend the next year analyzing the impact this could have on providing those services.