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This is the way that public employee contracts should be negotiated

Original post made by Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Jul 25, 2012

This is the way that public employee contracts should be negotiated - with the opportunity for public input BEFORE the process begins:

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District (MPFPD) and the Menlo Park Firefighters Association, District 10 of I.A.F.F., Local 2400 are working together as partners to make positive changes and improvements which will benefit the firefighters, the District and the Community that we serve. With that commitment in mind, the District has developed a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as a starting point to return to the bargaining table. As part of the Fire Board's transparency policy to the community and their employee's , this draft MOU, along with related communications, and compensation packages have been posted to the District's web-site @ Web Link

Comments (24)

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 26, 2012 at 8:32 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Surprise, surprise!! Here is the union's response - they won't even start negotiations!!

"After reviewing the elements of this draft MOU, Randy and I do not believe your current proposal is a starting point for us. We feel that there are realistically only two courses of actions that we can take. The first is that we participate in an informal mediation through PERB to mediate a starting point at which we could both mutually in good faith start to bargain or continue to wait for the ALJ to administer a ruling which we anticipate in the next 3-4 months."

Thank goodness we have an elected Fire Board that truly represents the citizens whom it serves and won't do the usual thing of starting negotiations by asking the union for a union proposal but has the wisdom to instead put its own proposal on the table first.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm

What is the union waiting for? First they said they wanted an 11% raise. But then they said it was about being respected. There are 2 new members on the fire board -- both endorsed by the union. I don't get it -- 3+ years and no contract. What do they want now?

Other unions are making concessions in light of economic conditions. While I respect the work that fire fighters do, they should be grateful to even have a job and generous benefits.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 30, 2012 at 10:17 pm

What do they want?

More money (supposed parity with other firefighters). More benefits. More control (we don't like our Fire Chief. He should be doing what we say. After all, "he's one of us.").

Don't believe me? Take their union president to lunch and ask him.

I did.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm

To Menlo Voter --

When you had lunch with the union president, did you ask him why he thinks the fire fighters should get more money given the state of the economy?


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Posted by Menlo Votet
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Joe:

Yes I did ask. The bottom line was they want to be paid what adjacent agencies are being paid, so called "parity.". The problem with this approach is that it creates a never ending upward spiral. One agency gets a raise based on another agency's higher pay then another agency then another agency and another then another agency ad infinitum. And I had this conversation in 2009 when we the economy was deep in recession. The other thing he said as to why they should get a raise was the fire district is well funded and has the money.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 31, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Thanks Menlo Voter; your assessment is accurate. This attitude seems consistent with what else I've heard about them.


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Posted by Heros?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 1, 2012 at 11:27 am

At some point I believe there needs to be a discussion about the revered and hero like worshiping of the fireman. Granted they put out fires (apparently only 2% and 4% of the time, as researched recently showed in two university studies), and granted they at times save lives. This is obviously admirable stuff. HOWEVER, for the general public to be held hostage by 11% increases, new equipment, more training costs etc., for an agency that is overblown, with FAR too many personnel and FAR too many costs, is unacceptable. How do we have a conversation about cutting back the number of firehouses (last count 4, possibly 5 in little ol' Menlo Park?), how bought contracting out the calls that are medical related to a much smaller unit of motorcycles, smaller cars, possibly vans, etc.? Do we really need a $500K piece of equipment to show up at the senior center, because someone fainted?? How 'bout a serious discussion about this bloated pension, that Jerry Brown and no one else touches, for fear of not receiving the union vote? Seriously, there is SO much waste in this agency, but no one wants to touch our "heros". We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to the next generation to have the tough conversation! No private company would put up with this, and no private company would continue to be in business!


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 1, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Heros:

sorry to disagree with you, but we have the number of firehouses which prudence requires. I don't have the exact stats, but I'm sure Peter Carpenter can chime in, but in order to have good response times in the case of fires and other emergencies we need the number of firehouses we have. When there is a car wreck requiring and extraction I'll take that $500k apparatus with all of the equipment needed to get my rear end out of the car. And so would you. In fact, I'd hazard a guess, that you are one of those that would scream a blue streak if only an ambulance showed up to your wreck with no way to get you out of the car.

Sorry, we need the firefighters in the numbers and the number of stations we have. What we DON'T "need" is to give them ridiculous pay raises and pensions that no one in the private sector could hope to have. When you have 300 qualified applicants showing up for every opening, basic economics tells you that you don't need to pay anything more than we already are to keep the supply of qualified applicants coming.

The interesting thing abut "qualified applicants" in this case is that some are more qualified than others. It is my understanding that if someone is not at least EMT certified they will not even be considered for a position. If someone has Paramedic training they are even higher on the hiring ladder. That training cost a lot of money and takes a lot of time. We have people paying for that training on their own in order to make themselves more "hireable." With that going on do we really need ot pay what we're paying? I think we could probably pay even less.

Dirty little secret about the fire service - they only work 10 days a month so many of them (a lot) have second jobs or their own businesses. Dave Bragg ring a bell? So, not only are these folks making outstanding wages, they're often making a quite nice second salary.

Sorry, but we could cut wages and ADD firefighters and we would still pay less money than we are now.


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Posted by Heros?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 1, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I respect your comments Menlo Voter, and do agree with all of them. Still question the number of stations, and the need to go to every call with a $500K rig. Could not a fully stocked motorcycle, or smaller ambulance handle some of the med calls? It just seems more fuel efficient, and heck maybe faster?

Your ideas about the comp are dead on, no complaints here. In fact, there could be an argument made to make it illegal to have a second job, or they should get some type of deduction in their salaries, particularly AFTER they are receiving their expensive pensions.

Again, how do you effectively have a discussion about the "heros"? Difficult to do with the way the media would portray this.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 1, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I would surmise the fire service much like law enforcement could be managed more efficiently. We don't really need as many fire departments as there are in the county (just like we don't need 18+ police departments).

If local government were truly serious about cost savings, there are many steps that could be taken. However, it's much easier to talk than do. Nobody (current elected officials and city leaders) aren't willing to get tough with consolidation and other cost saving measures. I do believe that some of Menlo Fire's past and present board members advocated for consolidation.

Consolidation could downsize the number of chief officers, possibly fire fighters, and diversify the type of response vehicles needed.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 2, 2012 at 7:00 am

Heros:

Unfortunately, you don't always know what you're going to need on a particular call. People that call 911 are often excited or hysterical and do not accurately convey what has or is happening. Better to arrive over equipped in those situations than under equipped, then have to wait for the dispatch and arrival of another piece of apparatus. All the while someone could be expiring.


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Posted by Heros?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 2, 2012 at 11:06 am

I hear you Menlo Voter, but there are several counties and states across the country that have figured it out, and privatized it, or made it much more efficient. However again, once you start down the road of their bloated pensions, number of personnel, fancy equipment etc., you get accused of being un-American or a complete idiot. I think more people would start to understand the issue, if they saw the costs as it relates to their taxes, and how it relates to a private business. An individual trying to get elected these days without the support of the fire guys, or the SEIU, etc..........they can forget about being elected. Therein lies the problem.


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Posted by Dave Bragg- Business Owner/City Council Candidate
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

Joe,

You hit the nail on the head: "Consolidation......" The Firefighter's in the county and specifically in Menlo Park have been working towards a County Wide Fire Dept for 30+ years!! Only recently have a couple Fire Board Members joined this fight. So on this issue most everyone seems to be on the same page. This could save the county $10s of millions almost immediately.

Lee,

This is the second shot you have fired at me in the media and have been dodging a meeting with me ever since. I have contacted you several times to set up a meeting to discuss my candidacy and view points and you have been too "busy" for me. I believe that you will be pleasantly surprised with my stance on many issues.

I really am a candidate that can represent all sides fairly. Learn more about me at www.davebragg.com


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Posted by Dave Bragg- Business Owner/City Council Candidate
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 2, 2012 at 11:41 am

Small correction to my last post. "Lee" was supposed to read "Menlo Voter" One shot was from Lee Duboc herself, and this was from "Menlo Voter".
It is possible some else also uses that handle. So Menlo Voter and Lee Duboc, I would love to meet with you and earn your vote.

Thank You
www.davebragg.com


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Posted by bill
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2012 at 12:36 pm

from redwood city---instead of comparing the firefighter job to other firefighter organizations compare them to other jobs (as similar as possible--I acknowledge this is not easy) in the private sector..it is commonly called job evaluation, the way it is done now is like a run away train.


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Posted by realist
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Will they use this same comparison strategy when the other communities are reducing salaries? Nah, that wouldn't be fair.....


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Dave:

Believe me, I am trying to find clear space in my schedule to meet with you. Fortunately for us construction is picking up! Unfortunately for me one of my jobs is in SF with another in Saratoga and another in Los Altos Hills I spend a ridiculaous amount of time on the road. I'll be in touch.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm

To Mr. Bragg -- if as you say the fire fighters in the county have been working on consolidation for 30 years why hasn't there more progress?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 3, 2012 at 3:11 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The ONLY obstacle to wide area consolidation is that the majority of current elected local officials are, sadly, unwilling to give up their personal power in order to achieve significant public savings.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2012 at 11:18 am

Peter - do you have the time & inclination to further explain your above comment? Do you mean it wouldn't even be something we residents can vote on becaus they wouldn't let it get that far? How would they lose power by allowing consolidation?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 3, 2012 at 11:28 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Most elected and appointed officials, and most business executives, view the size of the budgets they control and the number of people in 'their' organizations as measures of their power.


IF there were enough concerned taxpayers then they could put the matter of consolidation on the ballot - sadly most people simply do not care so inertia and the status quo will rule the day. I am unaware of any citizen even raising the issue of consolidation during public comment periods of city councils or the board of supervisors. The firefighters union and the MPFPD Board are the only entities that have tried to encourage consolidation.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Peter - thank you for your response. I guess I was thinking that there might be more esoteric reasons than the ones your stated for politicians to be against it.

I understand that the model currently at work can be considered outdated in many ways, but that the other view is that "if it's not broke, don't fix it." Unfortunately, we all may be broke too late in the game.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

After the union refused to even discuss the Fire District's latest MOU proposal (remember that the union has refused to negotiate for almost 3 years) the Fire Chief has made this offer:

"Thank you for your letter of July 22. I look forward to working with you both as we continue towards a solid, professional relationship. In your letter, you state that you do not believe the Draft MOU I gave you is a starting point for you. The Draft MOU is intended to be a starting point in that it is based on your current compensation and benefit package.
The District would certainly like to engage in mediation in an effort to return to the bargaining table for the purpose of negotiating an agreement. The District recommends that we seek to engage a mediator from the State Mediation & Conciliation Service (SMCS) in order to facilitate such a discussion.
Please let me know if you would be interested in obtaining the assistance of SMCS, and we can work to make the necessary arrangements."

Clearly the Fire District is bending over backwards to get the union back to the table - but it is not willing to agree in advance to the union's outrageous demands -"The Draft MOU is intended to be a starting point in that it is based on your current compensation and benefit package. "

Perhaps it is time for the Fire Board to consider drafting an RFP soliciting bidders to provide services to the District - even the union could submit its bid.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 8, 2012 at 11:12 pm

One option would be to give the union everything they want and then see how long the FD stays solvent. Given that a number of CA cities are filing for bankruptcy because of unsustainable costs, which includes salaries and benefits, how long do the fire fighters think the money will last?

Really -- 3 years without a contract?! Do I hear 4, 5..... At what point do they just become spoiled brats?


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