The San Diego firefighters are in the midst of a meet and confer process that has been taken public through no choice of our own. Please take a moment and follow this link to our website. Get some factual information about who we are, what we do, and what we are currently negotiating for.
We just received a copy of a compensation study completed by Buck Consultants. The study was to have been done jointly between the city of San Diego and the San Diego City Firefighter’s Union Local 145. This is the only one of three joint studies, that were to be completed by Feb. 1, 2007, that was actually done. It was completed without our participation and presented seven weeks late.
Cities in the Bay Area were intentionally omitted because of the higher compensation and benefits they receive.
San Diego firefighters are No. 51 in pay and benefits in the State of California. We have gone two years without a salary increase and two years without a flexible benefits increase. In addition, we are paying an additional 5.7 percent of base salary towards retirement. Our compensation and benefits is at least 20 percent less than 50 other cities in California.
The city of San Diego did not get into these financial difficulties overnight. We believe the best way to get out of this financial mess is to tie it to the mayor’s five-year budget proposal. We are therefore proposing a five-year contract. We are willing to take the average compensation and benefits package given to the 10 largest cities in California. We are also willing to allow the mayor and his negotiating team to decide how to get us there over the next five years.
They can compensate us in salary, health benefits, retirement offset or other form of compensation. We are proposing that the city move one-fifth of this total amount each year for the next five years. Anything short of a five-year plan is nothing more than a Band-Aid approach that will otherwise have to be revisited every year.
We are beginning to find ourselves dealing with the same retention problems the police department is facing. I can only recall of one or two people leaving in the past 20 years. We now have more than 35 that have declined employment or have left to work for another department. Many more will follow if we are not competitive.
I have been a firefighter for over 27 years and have been in operations my entire career. I currently work at FS33 in Rancho Bernardo. I have come to personally know many of the citizens there. I do not believe that they want their firefighters to be the lowest paid and benefited firefighters in the west. We employ top quality individuals, let’s work together to keep them here serving the citizens of San Diego!