The Muskegon city manager says negotiations with the firefighter’s union are not making progress, and time is running out.

At a city commission meeting on Tuesday night, Jan. 24 manager Frank Peterson used graphics to explain how some firefighters are exploiting overtime and work rules to earn extra compensation he says the city can’t afford.

But the union was not willing to amend their current contract before it expires at the end of this year. Petersen says if concessions aren’t made in a new agreement to take effect in 2019, the current force of 27 firefighters may not be sustainable.

“The costs accumulate over and over again, day after day after day,” Peterson told the commission and capacity crowd. “We have identified the issues, identified possible solutions and tried to work to resolve them.”

“These are your firefighters,” said union leader Shaun Abbey during public comment period. “These guys would die for you. Any one of them--every single day.”

If city management cannot negotiate a more favorable contract to take effect in 2019, they say they may explore other options for fire protection. Those could include training some police officers as firefighters, recruiting paid on call staff and more collaboration with fire departments in neighboring communities.

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