Fire deal

Gary Malloy, a retired businessman who has been watching and commenting on the city’s budget deliberations this year, was at City Hall for this afternoon’s meeting of the City Council’s budget and finance committee. His assessment of the administration’s proposed labor deal with Stockton Professional Firefighters Local 456 – “I’m pretty disappointed that we only got $4.7 million,” he said. “We didn’t really get much.” – is the view shared by most of the council members who are likely Tuesday to approve the accord.

City Councilwoman Susan Eggman blamed the union. Councilwoman Leslie Baranco Martin blamed staff. Mayor Ann Johnston said, “Obviously it’s not enough to close the gap.”

The council’s balancing of a $31 million budget deficit in June relied on its expectation of $7.2 million in concessions from Stockton’s firefighters union. When it became clear in August that the union would not be giving up that much, Fire Chief Ron Hittle issued a memorandum, Special Bulletin No. 68, which restricted the use of vacation to control overtime costs. The union filed a grievance and the two sides met. The union agreed to make scheduling, health care and other concessions in exchange for the cancellation of Bulletin No. 68. The value of that agreement is about $4.7 million, and officials said that is the best they could do.

Fire Capt. Dave Macedo, president of the fire union, has not been returning telephone calls for weeks, nor did he today. In the August/September edition of The Supply Line, a union newsletter, he wrote:

The frustration we all felt and still feel after the city’s attempt of illegal action is still fresh in my mind. Special Bulletin #68 will not be forgotten for many years, it was an act of betrayal, disrespect and has left a bitter taste in many mouths. The Union has a history of negotiating in good faith, always putting our issues out in the open with no surprises. Unfortunately the City Manager and his budget entourage think their fire department should reduce its budget by either reducing minimum staffing or violating the City Charter and good faith bargaining laws. Equal treatment never took place and we were the ONLY Union the city initiated an act of imposition on.

A budget entourage and an act of imposition. Tough stuff. Here’s how Macedo concluded:

The City Manager, current Mayor and Councilmember’s relationship with the firefighters without a doubt have been tarnished. They gave direction to the Fire Chief to cancel time off resulting in a direct violation of the City Charter and MOU. Only the threat of arbitration and the expense of thousands of dollars in legal bills ended this disrespectful act. I’ve heard your frustration at the union meetings this week and regardless of the vote passing or going down in defeat I will support the outcome.

City Hall today provided a copy of Special Bulletin No. 68. Here it is: 

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