Fire union files complaint over budget, staff cuts

Proposed budget cuts would eliminate six high-level staff positions; the union president said members are being treated unfairly

DAVENPORT, Iowa — A fire union in Iowa has filed a complaint with the state over proposed fire department budget and staffing cuts.

The Quad City Times reported that the Davenport Fire Department's new budget would include $255,000 in cuts and the elimination of several staff positions.

The complaint was filed after the union was told a district chief, captain, two lieutenants and two engineers would be demoted this year. Four of the six members were just promoted in December.

Fire union president Ryan Hanghian and Fire Chief Lynn Washburn met with the city administrator and an alderman to discuss concerns over the decrease in staff.

"It was a normal, scheduled union mangement meeting," said Chief Washburn. "We had a very good discussion."

"We're working toward a solution," Hanghian said. "It may not be the best solution. It may not be one we're OK with or we can agree with, but it might be one we can live with."

Washburn said she and other city staff are trying to come up with solutions to cut the fire department's budget. She did not elaborate on what those solutions might be.

The complaint said the city is blaming the union for the demotions and has told union representatives to stop posting signs about the dispute. Yard signs informing residents about the ongoing feud have popped up around the community.

"I didn't stand up at a mayor's press conference that we were OK with the current level of staffing," Hanghian said. "Because of that, our membership was thrown back on the table for demotions. That's not fair. We don't make department policy."

Union members have been reprimanded for posting the signs.

"Our membership has a right," Hanghian said. "This community has the right to know what they're getting for their tax dollar. We want our guys to be treated fairly. They're allowed to do certain things. Freedom of speech is allowed."

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