The Omaha Firefighters Local 385 has filed suit with the state labor court to protect its right to pay raises for the year 2010. The court is expected to rule soon on a similar lawsuit regarding wages for 2009.
In the fall of 2009, Mayor Suttle and the union had negotiated and agreed to pay freezes for the 2009 and 2010 calendar years but a contract has yet to be approved.
Union attorney John Corrigan says the city left firefighters "with no other choice" than to file. Corrigan says all sides have worked extremely hard to reach an agreement that deals with more than just salary but pensions, health insurance and staffing.
He says it appears there isn't four votes on the city council to approve the contract so the union is making sure it's protecting the members. If the paperwork isn't filed before the end of the year, the union would have no legal recourse to reclaim past wages.
The city of Omaha and its taxpayers could be on the hook for between $3.6 - $4.5-million dollars in back wages.
Mayor Suttle has said in the past that these deals are critical at solving, not only the city's immediate financial struggles, but shoring up the pension. Many on the city council have argued that the contract doesn't go far enough in protecting taxpayers.