04/27/2011

Merge of police and fire sparks labor fights

“If I wanted to be a police officer, I would have gone to the police academy,” one firefighter said of the move

A Breaking News

WASHINGTON — David Micallef never thought he’d be involved in a labor dispute at age 25, much less assuming a lead role in one. But as president of his local fire union, Micallef has been leading his fellow firefighters in a long-running fight with the city of Harper Woods, Mich. Their beef? They say the city is trying to turn them into cops.

“If I wanted to be a police officer, I would have gone to the police academy,” Micallef says.

Next month, residents in this Detroit suburb of 14,000 will head to the polls to vote on a proposal to merge Harper Woods’ police and fire departments and start cross-training personnel. This controversial measure, which proponents say is a necessary cost-saving measure, is now on the table in a number of cash-strapped towns in Michigan and elsewhere. Facing serious budget deficits in the economic downturn, some city leaders are looking to slash an area of the budget that was once considered inviolable: public safety.

Read the full story on A Breaking News.

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