The phrase “back to the drawing board” is becoming part of the regular story for San Jose firefighters and the city.
The San Jose firefighters union on Friday overwhelmingly rejected a proposal by the city that would have allowed 49 recently laid-off
firefighters to be rehired, calling the offer unfair.
More than 600 firefighters participated in the vote, which took place during a two-day meeting that ended Friday afternoon. About 88 percent of the firefighters voted against the city's proposal, which asks for an 8.9 percent cut in total compensation that would amount to a 14 percent pay cut.
"We're very disappointed by the vote Friday," said Michelle McGurk, a spokeswoman for Mayor Chuck Reed. "This was an opportunity to bring the 49 firefighters back to work...instead those firefighters are sharing 100 percent of the pain."
Before the firefighters' vote was announced, union president Randy Sekany and nearly 250 firefighters held a news conference to discuss the department's response to four fires Thursday that ultimately destroyed two homes, killed two dogs and caused $1 million in damage to an asphalt plant.
After the vote, San Jose Firefighters Local 230 Vice President Jeff Welch said in a statement that Reed and the City Council are
"misspending millions" and prioritizing spending on "high-priced consultants and a new fleet of cars" over public safety.
"The mayor and City Council must recognize the strong statement firefighters have made Friday," Welch said. "We ask them to end the irresponsible and reckless game of politics and to immediately restore positions and put our firefighters back to work."
The city has said it was forced to lay off the firefighters after negotiations between the city and union stalled and a proposal put forward by the union failed to achieve the city's cost-cutting goals.
The union has offered to take a 5.25 percent wage reduction and to accept increased health care co-pays and premiums as well as other health care coverage reductions. San Jose's police union offered the same reduction package, which the city accepted.
Bay City News