RHINELANDER - Most city council meetings are fairly quiet.
But what brought Rhinelander residents out tonight was a battle that's become a common one in Wisconsin.
"Equal pay for equal work,"
That's what Union workers wanted to maintain at tonight's city council meeting in Rhinelander.
"We are going to be advocating that this is not how we entered this agreement in good faith," AFSCME staff representative, John Spiegelhoff said.
"Therefore we're advocating for the city to not go through with this ordinance change and to vote it down."
The city is looking for ways to save money.
One way is to lower the wage rate on new department of public works hires by four dollars an hour.
"Before you make the move to reduce four dollars an hour from the wages of people who do the type of work that are covered in the contract which is a tremendous cut in pay," said Rhinelander resident, Dennis O'Brien.
"It really would be fare and prudent at your part to review this more carefully."
A union rep says doing so won't just affect the department of public works.
"This is going to adversely affect labor relations within the city if it goes through," Spiegelhoff said.
"As well as the businesses that are going to be adversely affected."
But the city says it doesn't have more money to give.
"The words that I heard were we want more not less. There is no more." Rhinelander Alderman, Mark Pelletier said.
"If you look at the tax increase that the city has done in the past few years, there's not much capacity to raise taxes on our residents going forward, said Rhinelander Alderman, Alex Young.
"There just isn't money in the piggy bank to keep going the way we're going."
The council voted unanimously in favor of the decrease.
"All those in favor signify by saying "I" "EYE" votes opposed. Motion carried. Ordinance stands."
Young thinks the new wage rate is still a competitive rate.
This new proposal will not affect the current workers, only the new hires.
MERRILL - For 32 years Battalion Chief Mike Drury walked into the Merrill Fire Department ready to save lives. Friday he walked out of the department for the last time to start the new phase of his life. "It goes fast it goes really fast," said Drury. Drury was about 18 -years -old when he walked into the Merrill Fire Department for the first time. "When you're 18, 19,20 years old and you're looking at 50 something years old you think you're never going to get there," said Drury.
Drury is one of 184 firefighters to ever work full time with the city of Merrill. "As a firefighter they spend a lot of time at the fire house so they miss a lot of things," said Drury's daughter Cassi. After 32 years of missing birthdays, holidays and family time Drury was ready for a change. "I realized I had enough this is a young man's job," said Drury. Friday afternoon Drury said goodbye to a room of men who merged and became family. "Not having that is a little scary I know they'll always be our family but it's hard to leave," said Cassi. Cassi watched her dad rush off to help his community since the day she was born. "It's scary because you hear about the times things don't go right or the times fire fighters don't come home," said Cassi.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander couple thought they were empty nesters. However, an experience volunteering made them open their doors back up to kids who need a temporary home. The Zoerb's adult children moved out years ago. But at any moment they could get a call from social services that make them bring out their parenting skills for another round. Rick and Danielle Zoerb work together as realtors putting people in homes that are the perfect fit. However, the husband and wife know their home can be a good fit for others too. "There's no reason for kids to have to fall through the cracks," said Dani. Rick met a child at a mentorship program a few years ago. It was a meeting that opened a new door for him and his wife. "There was no hesitation on our part when we felt the situation was deteriorating for this young boy," said Rick.
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