Last night, zac left a very helpful comment in the Open Thread detailing the agreement reached between the firefighters union and the City. To make it easier for people to find, and also to avoid overburdening the Open Thread with conversation on one topic, I’m putting up the comment as its own post here, and moving the comments that were already left in response over here as well. Thanks again for filling us in, zac! – V
OK folks–here it is. It’s time to let you all in on the contract that Local 55 (fire) has negotiated with the city. Ready? Go!
As you know (hopefully) Local 55 is already paying 13% of our salary towards PERS. This is far over and above any other bargaining unit in the city. And we’ve been doing it for years, saving the city lots of money. We also reduced the amount the city paid for our medical coverage two years ago. Next, two years ago we agreed to work four hours per week for free. We’re still doing that. This was effectively a 7% cut in pay. I’ve heard a lot of people say that that isn’t a cut to work four hours per week for free. But imagine if you are a 40-hour per week employee and your boss told you that you had to come to work every other Saturday, all day long. For free. It would probably feel like a cut.
Anyhow, that’s what we did before. Here’s what we’re proposing now:
- Three year contract
- 8.85% pay cut
- Give up 2 Vacation days per year
- Freeze the city’s contribution to our dental plan
- New hires go to 3% at 55 for pension
An 8.85% cut plus a loss of two vacation days is equivalent to 10% of our total compensation, or 9.57 million dollars. Two vacation days might not seem like a lot, but we work 24-hour days. Most folks in the dept get either 7 or 9 days, so a loss of two days is a significant chunk.
So there you have it (for the first part at least; there’s more). Ten percent. Boom. In the form of a 9-ish percent cut and two vacation days. This is on top of the 13% contribution to PERS and all that other stuff. It saves the city 30 million over the life of the contract, and the change in retirement calculation saves millions more down the road.
But wait, there’s more…In the second year of the contract we give the city the option of browning out two companies. The city is quite eager to close/brownout firehouses. We insisted that each neighborhood share the pain. So to that end the brownouts will roll through the entire city. We have 32 rigs and 2 will brown out each day, beginning July 2012. Essentially, each company will be closed one sixteenth of the time. This saves the city 4.4 million dollars per year.
So there you have it. A 10% cut directly out of the firefighter’s pocket. Ten million bucks a year. And two years of brownouts. It’s not anybody’s dream, but it’s a solid concession and we’re proud to do our part to help the city through this rough patch. I also feel compelled to point out that this concession far exceeds what any of the council members asked us for in their budgets. Going off of V Smoothe’s analysis, IDLF wanted 3.7 million from us; the Kaplan team wanted 12 million from ALL UNIONS COMBINED; and the Reid group didn’t really seem to be asking for any concessions at all. At any rate, we tripled the concessions that IDLF asked us for, and his seemed to be the most concessions-based budget.
Bottom line is that it’s a solid deal in a shaky time. We hope all of the other bargaining units will make similar concessions so that we can get this city moving again. It’s a pleasure working for/with all you fellow Oaklanders and I hope you feel OK about this deal.
And now: fire away! I’ll take your questions.