Contra Costa firefighters have agreed to delay wage increases for two years in recognition of “current, unprecedented economic circumstances,” according to the office of Contra Costa County Supervisor Susan Bonilla of Concord.
The members of United Professional Fire Fighters Local 1230 agreed to defer to 2011 of a 2.5 percent raise scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2009, and to 2012 a second raise of 2.5 percent scheduled for Jan. 1, 2010.
In return, the county extended all other terms of the firefighters’ contract for two years.
“As firefighters, we experience on a daily basis the hardship many families in our community are facing,” said Local 1230 President Vincent Wells. “We wanted to work with the county in maintaining the level of public safety we have always provided … We are willing to defer our raises out a few years with the hopes that the economy will turn around.”
While the pay deferral was undoubtedly welcomed, the firefighters’ concession does not represent a permanent structural change in wages or benefits.
The county and its numerous labor unions have been in negotiations for months as the county struggles to reverse an unsustainable trajectory of rising wages and benefits. Most county employee compensation levels are prescribed in labor contracts, which cannot be changed other than through negotiation and agreement on both sides.
Unions are usually loath to agree to any concessions because it sets the stage for future talks as well as other unions’ negotiations, so it will be interesting to see if other public employee unions follow the firefighters’ example.
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FIRE FIGHTERS AGREE TO WAGE POSTPONEMENT TO HELP
SOLVE CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BUDGET PROBLEMS
Martinez, CA- Contra Costa County and the United Professional Fire Fighters IAFF, Local 1230 have reached a tentative agreement to delay wage increases for two years. The agreement is an extension of a Memorandum of Understanding, a joint effort of the County and the fire fighters of Local 1230 to overcome current, unprecedented economic circumstances. The tentative agreement has been ratified by IAFF Local 1230 and will be placed before the Board of Supervisors for their consideration.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the County and IAFF, Local 1230 provides that the wage increases in the amount 2.5% scheduled to be implemented on July 1, 2009, have been postponed for two years until July 1, 2011. A second wage increase of 2.5% scheduled to be implemented on January 1, 2010, has also been delayed until January 1, 2012. The Memorandum of Understanding which was scheduled to expire on June 30, 2010 will be extended through June 30, 2012. All other provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding have been extended.
“As firefighters, we experience on a daily basis the hardship many families in our community are facing. We wanted to work with the County to assist in maintaining the level of public safety we have always provided. With the decrease of revenues in the Fire District, we are willing to defer our raises out a few years with the hopes that the economy will turn around. This economic crisis is worldwide. We will all have to chip in to get through it in order to maintain an adequate level of public safety and services,” stated Vincent Wells, President of IAFF, Local 1230.
Supervisor Susan A. Bonilla, Chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors stated, “I commend the leadership of our County’s fire fighters and honor their commitment to public service. Their sacrifice and willingness to work with the County during these difficult economic times is a great example of an effective partnership that can work together to solve problems and maintain public safety. I will continue to seek other partnerships in an effort to address our current and future budget crisis.”