Fire Deal with City Goes Down in Flames

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, June 5, 2009

City officials have said the new contract would allow Sacramento to leave the fire department’s current service levels intact – despite the city’s budget crisis.  In exchange, union members would have given up their cost-of-living increases.
If there’s no deal, officials have said the city will have to lay off 50 fire fighters.  That would mean decreasing the crew assigned to most fire engines from four to three.
Chris Harvey is a spokesman for the fire fighters union, Local 522.  He says the vote did not surprise him.
Harvey: “When the city of Sacramento comes to us and says, we’re only gonna offer layoff protection for these 50 members for one year, to our membership, that means that next year, at this time, we’ll be going through the same thing again.  So I believe that was the driving force behind turning the agreement down.” 
Harvey says the union hopes to continue the negotiations.  But city spokeswoman Wendy Klock-Johnson says Sacramento officials haven’t heard from the union yet.
Klock-Johnson says the city is disappointed the deal wasn’t ratified, but hopeful a deal can still be reached before the council approves a budget in mid-June.
The city’s police union has already agreed to similar concessions to avoid layoffs.