El Paso Fire Fighters Seek ‘Yes’ Votes on Propositions 2 and 3
Early voting begins today; fire fighter group will vote at 1 p.m.
EL PASO, April 27, 2015 – By the time early voting in the municipal election began today, El Paso fire fighters had knocked on the doors of more than 15,000 local homes, seeking the support of voters.
Fire fighters asked for “yes” votes for two propositions, Article 9, which would provide them with a three percent raise this year, and Article 24, which would increase their health insurance premiums by 22 percent per year.
If the propositions pass, the pay raise would be the fire fighters’ first in four years – after several deferred pay raises which saved the city millions during the recent economic recession, according to Joe Tellez, president of the El Paso Association of Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 51.
Since the fire fighters’ last pay raise in 2010, city council has approved a new city hall, the downtown baseball stadium, and a 40 percent raise for the former city manager.
Tellez said, “We are asking voters to do what the city council and city manager refused to do: approve a modest raise for fire fighters. We offered sensible solutions in contract negotiations during the past year, but the city essentially offered us a pay cut – after years of concessions we had made, saving the city millions of dollars.”
The pay referendum became necessary after the city, which is self insured, attempted to impose a 350 percent increase in health insurance premiums on fire fighters with no pay raise. Fire fighters had offered to increase their health insurance premiums by 22 percent a year for several years.
Paul Thompson, second vice president of the El Paso Association of Fire Fighters, said, “The city’s ‘offers’ in recent weeks were appreciated, but they were followed by misleading budgetary scare tactics by the city manager. The fact is, city council forced these propositions to go to the voters and we will now put our fate in their hands.”
On Saturday, fire fighters were joined in block walking by Sandy McGhee, District 11 Vice President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). A fire fighter from Tulsa, Okla., McGhee said, “We walked more neighborhoods asking for ‘yes’ votes for both propositions – and to show that El Paso fire fighters are grateful for the support of citizens in this election.”
A group of fire fighters will vote at 1 p.m. today at Pebble Village Center, Suite F, 10780 Pebble Hills Blvd.