Collier firefighters fight for backpay


NAPLES, Fla. Some firefighters are battling to get back potentially millions of dollars in backpay as part of a lawsuit.

The East Naples Fire District, which later merged with the Golden Gate Fire Control and Rescue District, as well as other smaller districts, to form the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District, was facing a $3.2 million budget shortfall in 2011, Greater Naples fire chief Kingman Schuldt said.

“The administration of the fire district was different and the board was different,” he said.

The board at the time cut their employees’ pay by 24 to 27 percent and laid off nine people in order to keep the district running.

“We offered all 9 people their jobs back,” Shuldt said. “There were several municipalities that went through a similar but not exact type of process.”

The fire district claimed there was a financial urgency and those drastic cuts were made to save the district.

However, the Greater Naples Firefighters’ Union disagreed and sued.

“The union is committed to following through to reach a fair outcome for its affected members,” said Trenton Madding, president of the union.

The East Naples board is currently negotiating with the union, according to Schuldt.

“We’re gonna be here stronger than ever, financially sound and we’re going to take care of our employees,” he said.

It’s unclear when they will be able to come to an agreement.

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