The very day layoffs took effect at the San Jose fire department, union officials made a new offer they claim will save the city millions of dollars and could bring at least some of the force back to the fire stations.
In all 49 members of the department turned in their equipment and badges over the past few days because of their union would not agree to the ten percent cut the mayor of San Jose said was required to meet budget concerns.
On Sunday, the union sent a new concession proposal to the city. Randy Sekany, president of San Jose Firefighters Local 230, said the fire department is developing a new model of deploying firefighters and dropping its demand of no layoffs, which Sekany said the city had conveyed "was an absolute barrier to agreement."
New San Jose fire Chief William McDonald starts with the department Monday. He is replacing former Chief Darryl Von Raesfeld, who retired on June 26.
McDonald, who has served as a fire chief elsewhere in the Bay Area, has developed models that "use this same technique to get savings to maintain services," Sekany said.
McDonald said it is unclear how much money this plan will potentially save or how long it would take to develop.
There is no word whether the city will even hear the new offer, much less accept it. Officials were not immediately available to comment Sunday.
The city of San Jose asked all employees to take a 10 percent pay cut to close a $118 million budget gap. The firefighters union, San Jose Firefighters Local 230, offered to take a 5.25 percent wage reduction, increased health care co-pays and premiums and other health care coverage reductions in lieu of any layoffs, said union spokesman Tom Saggau.
That was the same reduction package offered by San Jose's police union, but police did not face any layoff threat.
The police concessions netted almost $9 million, according to Alex Gurza, director of employee relations for the city of San Jose.
Gurza said the firefighters concessions netted approximately $4 million.
The police union approached the city to ask what it would take to prevent layoffs and built its concessions accordingly, Gurza said.
The firefighters matched the police union's concession package but its overall department is smaller, resulting in a net savings to the city that was smaller, too, he said.
The firefighters' concessions fell short of what the city needed to avoid layoffs by $6 million, Gurza said.
Bay City News contributed to this report.