Letter From The President
May 29, 2003

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Your Executive Board has been in long and tedious talks over the budget for the Fire Department. Our goal is to serve the City and the citizens with no cuts to our core service Ambulances, Engines, Trucks and Squads. Our core mission is to protect the City with adequate staffing of our field units. Others may and have requested that we cut Engines and Trucks; thus preserving many of the recent promotions at Headquarters and EMS that have materialized in the last few years. I find this type of self interest disgusting.

What are these same advocates going to say when a fire or emergency happens in a San Francisco

neighborhood and someone dies, or a firefighter is severely injured, and the Engine Company directly across the street from the incident has a sign proclaiming Engine closed for the day due to budget cuts? How are these individuals going to look themselves in the mirror? The fact is that our opponents are out there and your Union is doing everything possible to keep our neighborhoods safe.

The Mayor’s Office has been extremely helpful in the budget process. We have had ample opportunity to give input and discuss any recommendations that others have proposed regarding cuts in the Fire Department. The bottom line is we, the Fire Department, have to cut $19.5 million of our budget to balance the City’s overall budget shortfall of $350 million.

After the budget is finalized, contract negotiations will begin. Most City Departments have agreed to give up 7.5% of their salary to fund the retirement system and help the City recover from the current deficit. There are 2 unions that I am aware of that have already filed for arbitration regarding giving back the 7.5%. They have lost at arbitration on the 7.5% give back.

Your negotiating team will bring back to you, the membership, the best possible package that we can work out at the bargaining table in the toughest of fiscal times.

The Coalition to Save Neighbor-hood Firehouses has been very successful; with over 2,000 postcard responses from our Doorhanger Drops and newspaper ads. Our Coalition appears to have been well received and has sent a powerful message to the citizens of San Francisco and its Board of Supervisors.

Local 798 has filed a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco and the Civil Service Commission over the certification rule for promotional examinations. After two years of discussions, the Civil Service Commission unilaterally decided that a sliding band would be used for selecting eligible employees for promotion. Local 798 reached impasse with the Civil Service Commission and demanded that we go to interest arbitration, as required by the Charter. Because the City has refused to participate in interest arbitration, we had no choice but to file suit to protect our rights to binding arbitration under the Charter. In the lawsuit, we are requesting that no action be taken to implement the new certification rule with the sliding band, pending the outcome of the lawsuit and the arbitration proceedings.

Information and a vote on our Contract will be forthcoming.

Be safe,
John Hanley


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