Mayor Gabriel J. Campana has asked the 30-member city firefighters' union to "help out city taxpayers" by agreeing to a $500 deductible for their health insurance coverage.
"The city firefighters have generous benefits and pensions and don't contribute to a deductible for their health insurance coverage," Campana said.
Other city employees contribute to a deductible in their health plans, confirmed Joseph Pawlak, city fiscal and budget officer.
"We sat down with the mayor and continue to talk," said fire Platoon Chief Vince Rundio, president of the Williamsport International Association of Firefighters Local 736. "I'm disappointed the mayor wants to put this out in the public while the union continues to talk."
Campana said he informed the union that the cost of their health care and pensions are not sustainable for the taxpayers and are not realistic when compared with private-sector employers.
"It seemed to be the right time to ask the fire union for concessions," Campana said when asked why he approached the union with the concession request.
The fire union's contract expires Dec. 31, 2014.
Campana said after about two weeks from now he would consider further action.
"Failure of this (fire) union to help the taxpayers that are paying their wages and benefits will result in a new direction of thinking and action exhibited by the office of the mayor," he said.
Rundio said the benefits were part of the award in arbitration.
"We received those benefits when the city negotiated in bad faith and we took it to arbitration," Rundio said. "The result was the award to the union."