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Flint City Council, emergency manager at odds over firefighter contract

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint’s City Council may reject a new contractthe city’s emergency manager wants to impose on Flint’s firefighters.

The contract calls for wage cuts, pension changes, and a cap on retiree health care costs. 

“This is going to be a contract that will make it almost impossible to retain long-term employees,” says Mark Kovach, the head of the Flint firefighters union. “There’s no real benefit to stay.”

Kovach says the firefighters met three times with emergency manager Darnell Earley to discuss their contract.  Kovach describes those meetings as containing “very little dialogue." 

The Flint Fire Department has 75 employees. The department is one of the most active in the nation. 

The city’s finance director says the cuts are need to help keep Flint “solvent.”

“The kind of changes we’re talking about are not revolutionary,” says Jerry Ambrose, the city’s finance director. “They are found in many public entities.   They are found in the private sector.”

The clock is ticking. The Flint City Council has ten days to consider the contract being proposed by emergency manager Darnell Earley. That 10-day window expires this week. 

The Flint City Council will probably vote down the contract on Thursday. After that, the council will have a week to come up with its own contract proposal.  

There is one hitch: Any counter-proposal must contain the same level of savings to be accepted by the State Emergency Loan Board.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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