Springfield firefighters reject furlough city says could have averted layoffs
By Associated Press, 2/12/2003 08:04
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) Firefighters have rejected a pay deferral plan that city officials said could have avoided the immediate layoff of 54 firefighters.

Kevin Garvey, president of the firefighters union, said firefighters didn't trust the city and feared they would end up losing their jobs even if they agreed to take the 10-day pay cut.

The deferral was defeated in a 164-127 vote Wednesday.

The city sent pink slips to nearly one out of every four of its 240 firefighters on Monday. The department also has 51 lieutenants and 18 captains, who were also eligible to vote on the deferral. The city is also demoting 16 of the superior officers and closing a fire house.

A week ago the city laid off 76 police officers. Blaming recent state aid cuts, Mayor Michael Albano has cut 340 city jobs.

Garvey also accused the city of reneging at the last minute on an agreement it had worked out with the union on the pay deferral proposal. Peter Murphy, the city's labor negotiator, said nothing in the agreement was changed.

Firefighter Tony Amato, who is being laid off, voted in favor of the deferral, but said he understood why some did not.

''I think it's a shame to have guys put in that position,'' Amato, whose wife is pregnant with triplets, told the Union-News in Springfield.

''Some guys can't afford to give up $120 a week,'' he said. ''They're living from paycheck to paycheck.''