Box 14, Folder 12, Document 20

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Box 14, Folder 12, Document 20

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.Arcl1bisl10p·s O.fiice
Peachtree Road.N.E.
P 0. Box 12047. Northside Station
Atlanta.Georgia 30305
September 2, 1966
The Honorable Ivan Allen, Jr. Mayor
Captain J. I. Martin, President, Atlanta Fire Fighters
Union Independent
The Honorable Sam Phillips McKenzie, Judge, Superior
Court, Fulton County
Our City of Atlanta is again con£ronted with the grave
probability of another and more serious lack of fire protection.
As one of the spiritual and moral leaders of the community, I
feel that I have an obligation to speak out to both parties involved in the present confrontation over the wages, hours and
working conditions of the Atlanta firemen, together with the impending work stoppage. As a religious leader, I am concerned about
the justice involved on both sides : On the one hand the responsibility of the firemen to the community and the public interest;
and on the other hand the responsibility of the co11D1Unity to the
firemen and their families. The obligations in justice are mutual.
As a citizen I am concerned over the practical implementation of
this matter.
I also speak as one who is responsible for a school system
in which thousands of children are enrolled. surely everything
possible must be done to assure the protection of all the children
who are returning to school this week.
From all the information I have received from the news
media and other sources as well as Dr. E. D. Harrison's recent
hearing and findings, it seems to be well established, and generally
agreed by all, that the aunicipal employees of the City are not on
a wage-hour scale commensurate with current economic standards for
similar services. That this general problem of inequitable working
conditions for municipal employees requires a solution in the near
future is without doubt. Nevertheless, the present problem is in the
specific arm.of the Fire Department and its demands. I have heard
that it is agreed that monies are availabvle from present 1966 appropriations for the Fire Department due to unfilled vacancies in
that Department throughout the past year.
On the other hand, the greatest obstacle at the present
time in granting the increase imm diately or retroactively from
September 1, 1966 seems to be a legal one: namely, a law of the
State of Georgia which prohibits the City of Atlanta from granting
any pay raises after March 1 of the current fiscal yearo The legal
opinion that such a retroactive pay raise is illegal has been tendered by both the City Attorney and an unknown attorney employed by
Dr. Harrison. The attorney for the Atlanta Fire Fighters Union
Independent is of a different opinion.
I realize that both parties have been subjected to various
pressures to resolve these differences and both parties are also under
great press ure from those whcae concern is other than the firemen's
immediate, economic problems. I feel that the Mayor has acted in good
faith in his defacto recognition of captain J. I. Martin representing
the voice of the .majority of the firemen in the f>epartment. I have
first hand information that Captain Martin and his Executive Board
have been trying to do everything that is humanly possible to avoid
another work stoppage, and that is his responsibility. Mayor Allen
and the City are on record as recognizing and being in sympathy with
the needs of the situation. Both parties, therefore, seem to be working honestly and in good faith.
Since it seems to be a legal question which threatens our
collllllUnity with such disasterous and unbearable consequences, may I
respectfully suggest that the following possible solution be carefully
First: That both parties put their legal differences in
writing (perhaps in the form of a suit for a declaratory judgment).
Second: That this legal difference of opinion be resolved
by submitting this legal point, and only this legal point, to an
impartial legal arbitrator whose expertise in legal matters and sense
of fairness are unquestionable.
Third: Tha t this legal expert be Judge Sam Phillips McKenzi e ,
subj ect to the approval of the Chief Judge of the Superior Court, the
Honorable Virlyn Moore.
Fourth: Tha t t he attorneys for both par tie s submit their c a se
to Judge McKenzie within 48 hours eithe r by or al a rgumentation or by
means of written brief or both f or his consider ed j udgment .
Fifth : Tha t thi s j udgment be rendered as expedi t iously as
possible by Judge McKenz i e afte r due consi der a tion.
Sixt h: 1£ J udge McKenzie r ules that such a ret roact i ve increase is ill egal then the Uni on agrees that i t wi l l cease any further
economic action to secure its demands prior to January 1, 1967.
Seventh: 1£ Judge McKenzie rules that the City may lega lly
grant said increase in salary and relief for the firemen out of available surplus funds (assuming the funds are available), then the City
will grant such increases, retroac tively to Sep tember l , 1966 , as may
be a greed upon by the parties .
I realize t hat this is a s t op -gap and teaporary solution and
does not bring int o the picture the PAS report or the concern of other
parties for the plight of other city empl oyees. I believe, however,
that it would certainly how the citizens of Atlanta that both partie
have gone the last ail in order to bring about a reasonable, honorable
nd just settlement .
The citizens of Atlanta cannot and will not tolerate
another strike by their firemen, and I do not think the citizens
will tolerate their firemen not receiving fair and just wages and
working hours.
If my offices can be used by either or both parties in resolving these or other differences, I respectfully offer their full
resources. Should this be the case, I ask that you contact the
Auxiliary Bishop, Most Reverend Joseph L. Bernardin, since I am
presently in st. Joseph's Infirmary undergoing some tests.
May I ask that you consider this letter strictly confidential.
A copy has been sent only to the three persons ·named on the first page.
No mention of this has been made to the news media.
Respectfully yours,
r f p,,,.P J-. 1 ~
Most Reverend Paul J. Hallinan
Archbishop of Atlanta



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