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Town Square

Pleasanton Council ratifies new contract with firefighters' union

Original post made on Aug 29, 2012

Firefighters in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department whose pension and benefit plans have long been fully paid by both cities will start contributing 6% of their wages toward those plans Saturday with their share rising to 9% next July 1

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 9:47 AM

Comments

Posted by Member, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Aug 29, 2012 at 10:31 am

I have no problem with enlisting able-bodied taxpayers to support disabled, elderly or infirm members of our community. The real "intergenerational transfer" takes place when new hires are forced to accept pension benefits that are substantially less than the benefits afforded older workers. The obligation to support our elders should be imposed equally on each generation. The baby boomers should fund the future pensions of Gen Y firefighters just as Gen Y now funds the current pensions of the baby boomers.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Aug 29, 2012 at 6:51 pm

thank you for sharing...next time your home catches fire, i sure hope you have the nerve to say THANK YOU to the firefighters...

now go take a nap...


Posted by Brilliant, a resident of Foothill Farms
on Aug 29, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Thank them because my house catches on fire?


Posted by huh?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm

This statement doesn't make sense. . .sounds like a classic union line!

"Cook-Kallio said that while all city employees have taken on more work during the two-year hiring and wage increase freeze, continuing that could lead to a decrease in the level of community services, which she doesn't think the public wants"

This contract is about getting personnel costs back in line as a percentage of total revenue. Why would reducing personnel costs without laying people off cause a loss in the level of community services? How about asking the question how can we work smarter as a City--that would show some leadership!


Posted by GX, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Member - Maybe you have things backwards? Shouldn't it be that the preceding generation look out for the next generation and make the world a better place for those who come next?

The current generation of employees/union leaders/captured politicians voted in a 50% retroactive increase of pensions based on the false promise that it wouldn't cost taxpayers any extra and the market would take care of everything.

Inter-generational theft, pure and simple.


Posted by mac, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 8:49 am

They are going to be asked to contribute a bit more like the rest of us do. Sounds fair. We hve a broken economy and everyone must participate in some restructuring.

I am the proud parent of a firefighter. I hold them and police officers in high esteem. Balancing things, so bankruptcy's don't occur and balance to all is in place, is fair enough.

I think it is about participation in one's own investment.


Posted by Famous Amos, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 8:53 am

This business about if your house catches fire you better thank your fireman, is a load of cr*p. Of course, one would thank them, but the taxpayers are paying them a lot of money, so they are expected to do thier job. Sure it is a dangerous job, but the other aspect of the job is that they are sitting around on their butts 90% of the time. Ever seen them lounging around Raley's and Safeway, leisurely buying thier groceries, arriving their in a 3 miles/gallon firetruck. Ever seen them lounging around Club Sport, again driving their in a fire truck? Firemen in many other parts of the country work in the firestation, doing things like auto repair, making cabinets, furniture repair, electronics repair, tutoring children, etc. AND, they don't get to retire at age 50 at full salary!!!

P. S. If you don't want to let this madness continue, don't elect union trolls like Cook Callio as Mayor.


Posted by GX, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 9:16 am

The issue with this current contract is that fire is not being asked to contribute enough and once again they are delaying the start of their contributions. This is a gamed system where public unions always win and everyone else pays the price.

It's pretty simple. After this contract is put in place, our unfunded liability will continue to increase. This unfunded liability will be paid by our children. They will pay for services they did not receive so that contributions by current fire can be minimized and they can continue to retire too early.

Inter-generational theft.


Posted by P-Town, a resident of Mohr Park
on Aug 30, 2012 at 9:17 am

Hey remember there are many cities in this country where the fire department is volunteer. And they do not threaten "if you don't pay me such-and-such" "I hope your house burns down".

Firefighters are overpaid. They should only get paid if they really fight fires. Not sitting around the firehouse or shopping for groceries. Why do they need a firehouse anyways? Just make it a garage for the trucks to park and everyone works out of their house. So yes, they need to live in the city tey work in.


Posted by firewife, a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm

It is amazing to listen to all your complaints about how firemen don't do anything - what was it - 90% of the time. I urge you to be on call 24th! Hours a day, repeatedly woken up in the middle of, the night, often multiple times. They miss holidays, family gatherings, their own children's birthdays & weddings/funerals, etc. to be there and assist the elderly, infirmed, lonely & destitute, those affected by fire, risking their lives to save "your" property and loved ones. Please forgive them for needing to grocery shop so they are fed and not exhausted when they assist you at your most vulnerable and terrified moments. People amaze me - when you assume to know and comment about something you don't/won't do yourself and then claim to know everything about what goes on in their 24th! Hour day because you witnessed 15 minutes worth of it. Thank God for Firemen like my husband and his colleagues, because God help you should you or a loved one ever need their services!


Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I find myself increasingly amenable to the concept of an all-volunteer fire department. We'll call it the Benjamin Franklin Fire Brigade, provide training once a week on Tuesday evenings and ask each volunteer to work one or two shifts per month. The city can pay for equipment and treatment for any injuries. Training can be provided by experienced volunteers and those no longer physically able to handle active service, and everyone can feel proud of making a real contribution to their community.

Also, as I notice that FD response to fires actually makes up a minuscule fraction of calls (the vast majority are EMS calls), I feel we might even consider changing the name from the Benjamin Franklin Fire Brigade to the Benjamin Franklin Rescue Assistance Brigade.

We can work out the details later, but let's start talking.

Mike


Posted by D. Wilmstratton, a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 30, 2012 at 8:19 pm

A volunteer fire department is absurd.
Today's firefighters are as good as ever, and probably better than ever with their training.

So there is no question they are doing a excellent job and working the same hours as firefighters have for decades.
Their dedication and willingness to take risks is as ever, beyond reproach.

Now, having said all that, something has happened over the past 10 to 15 years.
Salary increases far exceeded the rate of inflation and pension "rates" took giant leaps upward.
The conbination of higher salaries combined with greatly increased pension RATES, has resulted in pensions that are hugely greater than was the case before.

If you doubt this, you only need go to the new data base in the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times.

Web Link=

Find Pleasanton and look at the top pensions. What you will see missing is almost all of the retirees who left service prior to the year that all the pensions were given huge boosts.

Example. Of the top 50 Pleasanton pensions, only 2 are for workers who retired before the giant boosts. Even with inflation adjustments, these prior workers only number 13 of the top 100 pensions.
This illustrates what happened to pensions in the past decade.
The new higher salaries combined with the jacked up pension rates has left almost all the prior workers well behind at far lower pensions.

Now, those prior workers have excellent pensions, just as everyone was well aware back then. But as generous as they were, they pale in comparison to the current pensions.
The system simply went out of control.

Go look for yourself. See the lists where those safety workers at 3% at 50 and those other workers 2.7% at 55, tower above all prior workers who received 2.0% at 50 for safety and 2.0% at 60 for regular workers.
That clearly demonstrates the vast pension increase that took place which only now they are finaly making small adjustments to...."for future workers"...

This is not about doubting the skills and dedication of the workers, but rather about gaining control of a system that climbed out of control.


Posted by BeenThere, a resident of Livermore
on Aug 31, 2012 at 8:07 am

Anyone who advocates a return to volunteer fire services should realize that paid professionals provide an infinitely higher level of expertise and service. Firefighters today require expertise in a wide variety of areas including, EMT or paramedic certification, Hazardous materials incident response, low and high angle rescue, swift water rescue, vehicle extrication, building electrical and fire codes, residential and commercial building construction, Incident Commmand System, SEMS, traffic control, public relations, building inspections, report writing, structural and wildland firefighting, vehicle, station and equipment maintenance and repair,and many other areas. They are required to work in extreme environmental conditions under severe stress and provide services to those that are having the worst day of their lives. Part-time volunteers can not reach the expertise required. No other occupation has such broad ranging requirements of expertise.

The day they respond to assist you or your loved ones you won't care how much they cost you will just thank God they are there!

Sitting around 90% of the time? I don't thinks so!!!!


Posted by Famous Amos, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2012 at 9:34 am

See today's Tri-Valley Times for a list of government workers receiving pensions of over $200,000 annually. Feast your eyes on how many of them are retired firemen. These folks typically retire at age 50. A person that is alive at age 50 will live to be 85 years old. A pension $200,000 for 35 years adds up to $7 million dollars!!!! This is absolutely outrageous. Are we nuts?!!!

The only way to stop this craziness is to elect mayors and city council members that will put an end to this insanity. Now, remember that Cook-Callio had firemen directing parking at her recent event to raise campaign conributions. Does that give you any clue as to where her bread is buttered? Does that give you a clue as to whether the prime purpose of Cook-Callio running for Mayor and previously for Council is to lard the wallets of the unions and their members?


Posted by D Wilmstratton, a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 31, 2012 at 10:50 am

Look Famous Amos, you are incorrect when you say "these folks typically retire at age 50" WRONG.

The more typical age is from 54 to 57. Not a small difference.
You wouldn't want a 62 year old firefighter trying to drag you, at 240 pounds, down a flight of stairs
You are also wrong in suggesting that Pleasanton workers are getting over $200,000 a year pensions. The highest in Pleasanton appears to be $177,000 in 2011. Having said all that, the pensions given to people who retired recently under the new system are indeed far in excess of what those workers agreed to when they began working for Pleasanton. A few years back all the pensions got jacked up, leaving the current mess and need for reform.

Its just that you do NOT need to engage in ignorant hyperbole about the facts. The facts themselves are enough without you losing all credibility by exaggerating them. Firefighters and police officers perform a great task, its just that compensation got out of control and pensions were boosted far in excess of what is appropriate.

If that weren't the case, we wouldn't be having calls for reform all over the state. Pleasanton's problem is not unique.


Posted by Daniel Bradford, a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 31, 2012 at 11:02 pm

A volunteer fire department is a GREAT idea. While we're at it, let's have an all-volunteer police department and staff our public schools with parent volunteers.

After all, firefighting, policing, and teaching are pieces of cake, that don't require extensive training or years of experience. Any fool can do it.

Don't put me on the list, however. I'm waiting until the hospitals are staffed entirely with volunteer, amateur doctors. I've never performed open heart surgery, or surgery of any kind, for that matter, but I've watched lots of documentaries and I was a whiz at the game "Operation" when I was ten years old, so I'm sure I'll make out fine.


Posted by D Wilmstratton, a resident of Country Fair
on Sep 1, 2012 at 1:40 pm

As usual, the issue of pensions gets all mixed up in this silly "voluteer" stuff.

Look, clearly the entire pension issue grew way out of control in the last ten years. Now some minimal steps are being taken to correct some of the obvious excess.
Unfortunately much of the damage is with us for decades to come.

Those decisions made 10 years ago are the costly Pleasanton ever made.

Have they also brought down the excessive pensions for all the non-safety workers? Most folks don't realize that pension "rates" were boosted by a gigantic 35% for those folks. Worst of all, the boosts were made retroactive. You work 29.9 years expecting a generous 60% pension, then one month later you retire and instead get a 81% pension even though neither you nor the city ever put away one more dollar to pay that "golden parachute boost".

Many city workers were given a $400,000 to $600,000 boost by that simple, almost hidden, change in the law.
Imagine instead of getting a gold watch for a gift, they instead gave you half a million dollars.
How many residents of Pleasanton were even aware that happened to hundreds of employees?


Posted by Truth, a resident of Birdland
on Sep 1, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Cut services to residents. This will cut back on expenses and release the pressure for my retirement pension. I plan on buying a large fishing boat and need at least 500K. The citizens need to understand I have plans that don't include them..so tighten your belts and don't start any fires...I have things to do.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I fear that the Millionaire Retirement Benefit group will become more and more despised and resented by the public and younger public workers as a generation of shamelessly selfish employees who gleefully piled unimaginable debt upon their children and grandchildren.

Mike