Nearly half of N.M. department, 14 FF/EMTs, gives 2 weeks' notice over pay
Deming Administrator Aaron Sera plans to meet with union representatives and said the city gave firefighter/EMTs a 6.5% raise plus bonuses and promised another 3%
DEMING, N.M — Social media blew up over the weekend with support for 14 Deming firefighters/EMTs who surprised city officials on Wednesday with tendering their two weeks' notice at the John Strand Municipal Building, 309 S. Gold St. The 14 city employees cited low pay as the reason for tendering their resignations.
A flood of social media posts began to appear on Facebook, with concerns of whether the city would be able to provide emergency services with nearly half of the Deming Fire Department personnel depleted.
City Administrator Aaron Sera was at the Legislative Session in Santa Fe on Friday and is scheduled to meet with Union 4251 representatives at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.
Sera was the target of the social media blitz over the weekend despite his claims to have worked on behalf of the Deming Fire Department for better pay. "The city provided the firefighter/EMTs with a 6.5 percent pay raise and bonus incentives that amounted to retaining bonuses of $2,000 to $10,000," Sera said. "We guaranteed another three percent in July, and they came with the resignations."
The city did pay plans with at least nine different municipalities that compare to keep pay scales competitive.
In 2020, the union missed the deadline for coming to the bargaining table and Sera admitted to seeing that deadline slip by. "The six percent pay raise in 2021 was the largest of any department in the city works," Sera said. "I am saddened by the resignations and the city has been busy trying to secure ambulance services for our area."
"Now hiring" signs have been placed in front of the Deming Fire Department at 309 S. Gold Street. Protesters were out in front of the city hall at 3:30 p.m. on Monday along with New Mexico TV news crews.
"All they had to do was say, 'hey, can we open negotiations and just talk about this," Sera told the Headlight.'" "I would have worked with them even though we gave them a raise last year, with incentives, and stability pay the year before. Instead, we have resignations and I get blamed."
The firefighter/EMTs represented by the Union continue to be unhappy with the pay scale and contradicted claims that the pay scale is comparable to other fire departments in the area.
Both parties agree that the common ground here appears to be a breakdown in communication between the City and the union.
A union representative for Local 4251 submitted an email to the Deming Headlight for publication but did not want to be identified for this article. Another representative called the Headlight an asked that the contents of the email is not published.
It is unclear if the firefighters who submitted their two weeks' notice have resigned or are on strike. "I'm not really sure," Sera stated. "I don't know what they are thinking. I want to make sure they are compensated, and we can negotiate in good faith."
Sera did reach out to local union president Ernesto Gomez and will meet with him and firefighters Matt Hudson and Victor Salas on Tuesday.