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No pay raise for DC firefighters in six years. Mention of it by mayoral candidate sparks controversy.



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Sam Ford, WJLA-TV:

It’s been over six years since D.C. police and firefighters were given a raise, but the mere mention of a pay increase is sparking controversy. Specifically, it’s the timing of the proposal that has D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray upset.

At his news conference Wednesday, Gray all but accused Councilmember Tommy Wells of trying to buy the Police and Fire Union's endorsement in his mayoral bid by offering them unprecedented raises.

“It completely undermines our collective bargaining apparatus,” Mayor Gray said.

Well’s bill would give police and firefighters automatic cost-of-living increases tied to the Consumer Price Index so that their pay never falls behind inflation.

“So this is a way for us to pay a fair wage to our firefighters and police so that we can keep them,” Wells said.

Union members who have received no pay increase in seven years are currently in binding arbitration with the city over pay and not happy about it.

“The amount of money we’re making now, if you account for inflation, has diminished by over 15 percent," said Kristopher Baumann.

In addition to Mayor Gray seeking re-election, five members of the Council are running, and Wells, joined by Jack Evans, are pushing the new bill.

The deputy mayor complains they’re interfering with negotiations.

“These two Councilmembers have tried to insert themselves into that process,” Paul Quander said.  “It is wrong. It is poor government, it is pandering.”

“It gives them hope. We want you to stay here, we will pay you a fair wage,” said Wells.

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