Omaha Ordered to Pay Millions to Firefighters

Nebraska's state labor court -- the Commission of Industrial Relations -- on Tuesday ordered the city of Omaha to pay millions in back wages to Omaha firefighters. With the price-tag between $2-to-$4-million, many are wondering where will the city get the money.

The issue revolves around a wage freeze that had been negotiated by Mayor Jim Suttle and the Firefighter's Union. The union agreed to wage freezes in 2009 and 2010 to help the city with its budget woes -- as long they eventually got a contract.

But the city council has not approved a new contract since that time -- a-year-and-a-half ago.

Mayor Suttle, who blames the city council for the impasse, says the way to fix city hall is by, "...working, not fighting, with our respective labor unions."

A majority of council members argued the last deal based on wages, health care and pensions was still too expensive.

The city doesn't have an exact figure since the ruling is seventy pages long -- and involves several classes of pay.

Barring any appeals, the city is required to pay the settlement in 90-days.

The city estimates this could have a $5-million dollar impact on the 2011 budget since wage freezes that were projected for 2010 are now compounded due to the court-ordered increases for 2009.

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