D.C. municipal union leaders said yesterday they reject Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon's call for deferred pay raises or furloughs, adding that the city would have to look for new sources of revenue to save its services.

An unusual coalition of labor leaders, representing more than 20,000 blue- and white-collar workers, teachers, nurses and firefighters, said at a news conference that Dixon would "have to explore all possibilities," including tax increases, for reducing the record $300 million deficit before laying off workers.

Several hours after the announcement, Council Chairman John A. Wilson told the firefighters union that he will introduce a bill today to reject the firefighters' pay raise. The union and the outgoing mayoral administration of Marion Barry reached agreement late last year on a four-year contract providing the 1,300 members with a 3 percent raise in the first year.

Wilson said he opposes the raise because the city cannot afford it. He said it would be "irresponsible" to approve any raises while the city is pleading with Congress for emergency aid to eliminate the deficit.

"That's politically insane; you cannot do it," Wilson said. "In fact, it is impossible for us to do it."

Union representatives, surprised by Wilson's move, were contacting council members last night to urge them to vote against the measure.

"They've already negotiated their contract. Why should they be penalized for negotiating with the former mayor?" said Kathleen McKirchy, the administrative assistant for the Metropolitan Labor Council (AFL-CIO).

Karen A. Tramontano, Dixon's director of labor relations and collective bargaining, said yesterday the mayor has no intention of supporting Wilson's unexpected proposal to eliminate the firefighters' raise.

"As a matter of law, the mayor has to legally support the package," she said.

Wilson has tried to take a lead role in the budget crisis by pushing council members and their staffs to take 10 one-day furloughs through the end of the fiscal year. Wilson will meet with union leaders tomorrow, the day before the unions are scheduled to meet with Dixon's staff, to discuss the proposed pay raise deferral and furloughs.

Wilson would not discuss his meeting with labor leaders, but several union representatives said privately yesterday that they believe he is "trying to take the upper hand" in the budget crisis.

"This is his big power play," one said. "He wants {Dixon} to say the word -- taxes -- and he is using us as the pressure point."

"John has said he will go along with taxes, but he is not going to propose them first," said another labor leader who said he had discussed the budget crisis with Wilson.

Strategies for thwarting the mayor's proposed deficit reduction package were not detailed by the union representatives who met yesterday at the Teamsters Hall. However, according to some of the leaders interviewed later, the unions did not agree to any specific strategy, such as work slowdowns, to express their growing frustration with the Dixon administration.

"We're intent on letting the collective bargaining process work," said Ed Kornegay, president of Teamsters Local 1714, which represents correctional workers. "I don't think it's beneficial to lay out threats."

Labor will be one of Dixon's toughest tests this year. Nearly 75 percent of the city's work force is unionized, and every major union contract has expired during the past six months.

More than 6,500 teachers and school employees are seeking 10 percent pay raises in negotiations with the D.C. school board.

Blue- and white-collar workers negotiated a one-year contract with the city last summer that guaranteed a 2 percent raise. However, the council rejected that pact recently, leaving 16,000 employees, from prison guards to public health nurses, seeking a three-year pact.

The city's 5,000 police officers also are working without a contract. Talks began this summer but then floundered as Barry was preoccupied with his drug trial. Fraternal Order of Police representatives are not scheduled to meet with Dixon's staff for another week.

Union officials recently have grown critical of Dixon's handling of negotiations. She has publicly and repeatedly called for deferrals of all pay raises, for union and nonunion workers, and raised the possibility of furloughs. In addition, her labor liaison, Tramontano, previously a lawyer in private practice who negotiated contracts for labor unions, is viewed by some labor leaders as bright but inexperienced.

"I'm not sure how much of the delay is designed by strategy or by people not understanding the collective bargaining process," Kornegay said.

Gary Hankins, chairman of the police union's labor committee, said the police have been without a contract since September despite their best efforts. They are seeking a 5 percent raise for each year of a three-year contract.

"After the election, I personally called {Dixon and her staff} a half-dozen times about the problem and told them they needed to move," he said. "We got no response.

"They're off to an uncertain start. They're still stuck in gear for a campaign to win an election," he said. "It looks like they're having difficulty now figuring out how to run a municipality."