The president of the city's firefighters union, which has labored for nearly 20 months without a contract, took a swipe at top city officials this week while unhappy firefighters carried placards at City Hall and other public places.
Union President Capt. Curt Campbell claimed that Fire Chief Michael Dolder and City Administrator Michael T. Uberuaga are playing "word games" and allegedly plan to make Fire Department cuts while declaring an intent to retain current staffing levels.
"There's not too much confidence in the trust factor with Dolder and Uberuaga," Campbell said.
But Dolder responded that "there's been no opportunity for (firefighters) not to trust us."
Dolder said that no cutbacks are intended. He said he plans to keep staffing levels at four people per firetruck and paramedic engine, three per fire engine and two per paramedic van.
Both sides have declared an impasse on the staffing dispute, but a hearing date before a state-appointed mediator has yet to be scheduled. A mediator settled a previous dispute over salary issues in the firefighters' favor.
Officials have said they have no intention of making cutbacks and in fact are planning to increase the number of paramedics from 33 to 36 in the coming budget, but have made no guarantees.
Campbell said he and the 145-member firefighters union want those intentions "nailed down in writing." City officials have said they are leery about putting guarantees in the contract because they need flexibility if the economy worsens and forces deeper cuts.