Nov. 1, 2001 — Union representatives of V.I. Port Authority aircraft-rescue firefighters will be in Territorial Court on Friday regarding work slowdowns at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix last week.
The Port Authority is seeking a temporary restraining order to keep firefighters from staging further job actions following a sickout last Friday by about 15 firefighters at the St. Croix airport.
The sickout delayed four flights that morning. Firefighters from the V.I. Fire Services who had previous aircraft-rescue training were called in to allow flights to land.
Airport firefighters, members of the United Industrial Workers of the Seafarers International Union, are subject to a collective bargaining agreement with the Port Authority that classifies them as Class III employees. That classification prohibits them from striking because their work is crucial to public safety.
Amos Peters, vice president of the UIW Caribbean region, who will represent the firefighters in court Friday, told the St. Croix Avis that the union and the Port Authority recently signed a new contract. Many firefighters apparently are unhappy with its terms because they will be paid less than officers on the Port Authoritys newly formed police force.
Peters said the entry-level salary for Port Authority firefighters is $22,500 a year, but after one year of service the figure jumps to $26,000. For Port Authority police the starting salary is $27,753. After 20 years of service, a firefighters salary reaches $41,564, compared to a police officers $46,066.
Peters said the Port Authority firefighters will be paid on the same scale as firefighters in the government-operated Fire Service through 2006. There are 30 Port Authority firefighters split between the St. Croix airport and the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas.
Friday morning's Territorial Court hearing is before Judge Ishmael Meyers on St. Thomas.