The International Firefighters Association Local 1645 unanimously voted Tuesday to take their dispute with the city over wage increasesfor up to 50 of their members to court.

"We are going to begin legal action against the city and the union will be funding it on behalf of the 11 (apprentice) employees hired a year ago," union boss Charlie Quick said.The union is objecting to Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis' across-the-board salary freeze, which they say interferes with yearly pay increases guaranteed to up to 50 of their apprentice employees under the National Apprenticeship Act.

Salt Lake City Attorney Roger Cutler would not comment on the threatened suit, but Mike Zuhl, DePaulis' chief of staff, said Wednesday the city would defend itself if a suit was filed by the union.

The disputed apprentice agreements call for a $410 monthly increase for first year apprentices, who start out at $1,452 monthly salary. Second-year and third-year apprentices receive increases of slightly more than $50 monthly until they become journeyman firefighters at $1,965 monthly after four years.

DePaulis froze the increases, citing budget conditions.