York County first responders take big risks for little pay

Posted at 7:17 PM, Mar 18, 2014

York County, Va. - Don Dinse, Union President for York County firefighters and paramedics, says county employees are facing a scary reality.

“When morale plummets, there’s more accidents, there’s more discipline problems, there’s more sick leave being used. Things just start coming unraveled,” Dinse says.

After five years, county employees got their first pay raise last year which was 2%.

But considering firefighters and paramedics now pay for their own benefits, Dinse says that didn’t amount to much.

"Some of these firefighters feel like they were misled. They came to the county, they left other jobs, they had other opportunities but they understood that York County was a great place to work and live,” Dinse says.

Tough economic times, though forced officials to freeze the salaries of all county employees five years ago.

Tuesday night, there’s going to be a push to get them a raise. County officials say they just haven’t had the money to do that. But two county supervisors tell NewsChannel 3 they’re pushing for it in next year’s budget.

Something, Dinse says, is long overdue.

"You can try to spin it any way you want but at the end of the day York County firefighters, police and teachers are making less money every year they stay with the locality.”

The county administrator tells NewsChannel 3 he will propose a pay increase for all county employees at a meeting with the board of supervisors on Tuesday night.

While he wouldn't say for how much, Dinse just hopes it's enough to begin to repair the damage that's already been done.

“What we're seeing now is highly trained highly skilled firefighters and medics leaving for jurisdictions that are treating them fairer, keeping their promises to them.”

In the meantime, Dinse and others have been using Facebook to spread the word about what's been going on hoping that citizens will join the fight and support them.