Brothers and Sisters,
The economic crisis has placed a strain on resources all across the country. Our brothers and sisters in other cities are facing station closures as well as layoffs. Our city is facing a 13 to 15 million dollar budget shortfall and we have been asked to help out with a memorandum of understanding. Our contract allows this as long as both parties agree.
We are being asked to defer our next pay raise that is effective January 3, 2010 to April 11, 2010. In return, the City agrees to defer the increases to our health plan that were to take effect in January and wait until the April pay raise is effective. In addition, the city will increase our life insurance coverage from $15,000 to $50,000.
The letter that went out to the membership was simply a notification that a referendum election will take place on this proposal. The Executive Board will be going out to every station and every shift to conduct the referendum election.
Our legal counsel is reviewing the language and as soon as it is acceptable it will be available for review by the membership. I am aware that many of you believe that we gave up a pay raise in 1996 but the documentation shows that we deferred a 1% pay raise from April 1, 1996 to October 1, 1996. The contract was then extended for another year and we received a 1% pay raise effective September 30, 1997.
The upcoming election will set the stage for contract negotoations next year. If we agree to help the city in these difficult economic times we will be viewed in a very positive light. I am fearful of what will happen if we don't agree to help out. The truth of the matter is that there is a budget shortfall and the money has to come from somewhere.
Please feel free to call your Executive Board members if you have any questions. Do not rely on rumors.
Now is the time to band together as a union and support each other. There is nothing that can tear us apart if we are united.
Joe Tellez, President
IAFF Local 51