It looks like the budget is tight for 2012. What will we see in the next few weeks?

12/18/11*Read bottom of post for how Chief Church takes $150 per month extra benefit and grabs $500 bonus each time he goes out of state in spite of failed budget, and in stark reversal of union employees taking wage freeze and other employees getting laid off.

There were some reductions in staffing levels announced recently and several district employees were laid off, but how well is the union holding up?


Last year at about this time there was a grand effort by the IAFF Local 2024 membership to  maintain public safety while still securing firefighter jobs when the union stepped up and voluntarily took a  freeze covering wages for 2011.


 Wage freeze or pay increase?

Effective January 1, 2012 the firefighters are eligible for up to a 6% pay increase plus a market adjustment of an additional 1.5% .


However, even though contract language guarantees a minimum 2% increase, the parties also agreed to reopen negotiations if a property tax initiative or change in state law causes a major loss of revenue which could potentially cause layoffs for department employees. This does not specify that union members need be at risk, but seems to include every district employee.


While I know of no property tax initiatives or changes in state law for calendar year 2011, or proposed for 2012, that might apply, the recent layoffs and decreases in the 2012 budget may trigger this action.


In light of the budget, layoffs and hiring freezes, will the IAFF local 2024 insist on a wage increase?


Or will they step up to the plate again, as in January of 2011, by putting the interests of the district and the safety of the citizens paramount by stabilizing wages and benefits at their current levels.

The budget for 2012 is millions less and as the January 1, 2012 deadline approaches, I wonder if there is another announcement on the horizon.


12/18/11*Just re-read the contract that was quietly negotiated by Bill Gates and the Chief in November 2010.

There was no real public announcement at the time. It was so quietly and suddenly conducted that not until Commissioner Mark Freitas brought up the question was there a story worth making the public even aware of it. We all heard how the chief took a wage freeze for the 2011, and how he was waiving his clothing allowance.

But left out of the story until you read it here a year ago that he actually will be given an extra years wages if he is fired without cause.That will be a nice $169,000 bonus.

But wait, there’s more!

In the paragraph for deferred compensation, while the boots on the ground first-in firefighters take wage freezes, the chief gets his deferred compensation boosted from $100 per month to $250 per month.


But wait, there’s still more money for the chief!

And another nice cash perk for his inconvenience. While he is on business travel that requires any overnight stay, we pay him an additional $500 each trip. This is in addition to his mileage, meals and travel reimbursement.

Just for doing the job of being fire chief, he gets paid over $169,000 per year, plus an “inconvenience” check of $500.

I figure it must be for travel expenses for his family. Why else would we need to pay him an extra $500 for just doing his job?

He goes to any out of state function, on business of course, and he picks up an extra $500.

He goes to Colorado. An extra $500 in his pocket.

Visits Portland and gets a nice $500 bonus.

I imagine that it would even apply to a trip to visit friends or family elsewhere if he were to stop in at a local fire station for a chat. Not inconceivable since this is a common practice. Usually to share experiences and swap insignia badges or the like. Submit a reimbursement for business trip and, bam, another $500 in the bank.

Now tell me again how the district is making best use of our hard earned money for the betterment of public safety by paying for these types of  perks to administrators while forcing firefighters to take wage cuts and suffer threat of layoff.

These double standards are sickening.


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