By the late 1970s, inflation was skyrocketing nationwide and the town was stalling in contract neogotiations with the Hamden Paid Firemen’s Sick Benefit Association, the firefighters’ bargaining unit since the 1960s.
In 1978, non-management department personnel formed the Hamden Firefighters’ Association (HFA). Finally, after working without a raise for nearly two years, and with the town still stalling on negotiations, the HFA members voted overwhelmingly to join the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).
In March 1979, the Hamden Professional Firefighters Association, Local 2687 became the rank and file’s official bargaining unit. Firefighter John Corbett was elected the local’s first president.
Local 2687 Charter - March 19, 1979 (CLICK to enlarge)
September 17, 1979 - Hamden Firefighters Protest Town's Intransigence
It's hard to imagine today, but in the late 1970s the economy was stagnant and rampant inflation was running at a crazy annual rate of 14%. Many private sector employees were getting annual raises in double-digit percentages. Municipal public safety employees, however, were getting raises in the low single digits - if they got any raises at all.
By late September 1979 Hamden firefighters hadn't received a raise in over two years and were well into their second year without a contract. Despite the union's attempts to negotiate in good faith, the current administration was not "into" negotiating.
On Monday, September 17, 1979, armed with picket signs, dozens of members of the newly-organized Hamden Professional Firefighters, Local 2687, IAFF, hit the sidewalks in front of Memorial Town Hall. When the town hall closed at five o'clock, picketing resumed in front of the mayor's new campaign headquarters in Highwood, which opened that night. November saw the election of Hamden's fourth mayor, Richard Harris.
Originally posted 9/14/10
Paul Petrillo, Bill Coppola and Harry Cubbellotti were among dozens of Hamden firefighters picketing town hall. (Dan Satran photo from the New Haven Journal-Courier courtesy of Paul Petrillo) - CLICK to enlarge
Frank Kafka, John Corbett, Bob Macauley, Dave Johnson and Wayne Lowry on the picket line at town hall. (New Haven Register staff photo by Patricia G. Barnes) - CLICK to enlarge