Council Expected to Approve Firefighters Deal March 22

On March 22, the city and the firefighters union, Local 230, will formalize an agreement for a 10 percent cut in total compensation over a two-year period. The agreement will also set a standard for fire engines to be staffed by four firefighters instead of five for further cost savings.

The agreement is a positive step in ongoing negotiations, and Local 230 President Jeff Welch has been seen as the key reason for a change of tone in discussions with the city’s lead negotiator, Alex Gurza. But there are still several major issues to be addressed, such as pension reform, sick leave payouts and a federal SAFER grant.

The grant could be seen as a bargaining chip for firefighters. It would allow the city to re-staff 49 firefighters positions that were laid off last year and the city would then be required to keep those positions through June 30, 2013. With the city’s budget remaining uncertain for the upcoming fiscal year as well as future years, the city is still weighing the value of the grant.

See the agreement between the city and San Jose firefighters union here.

See details of the federal SAFER grant here.

An excerpt from the agreement:

The City of San Jose and the San Jose Fire Fighters, International Association of Firefighters, Local 230 reached a Tentative Agreement on March 3,2011, for a successor Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The tentative agreement was ratified by the membership on March 7, 2011.

The City Administration is recommending approval ofthe Tentative Agreement for a successor MOA for the period of July 1,2009, to June 30, 2013. The agreement achieves a 10% ongoing total compensation reduction (base pay and healthcare changes), phase-in to fully pre-fund retiree healthcare, changes to minimum staffing, and side letters to continue negotiations on several reforms to include retirement for current and new employees, sick leave payout, airport fire services, and Supplemental Retiree Benefit Reserve (SRBR), and others.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. I have been seeing this repeatedly, and so that there is no confusion, San Jose CURRENTLY staffs only 4 persons on their ENGINES (which is the bulk of the fire department, 34 stations).  They will be removing the 5th person on their TRUCK companies. The Truck Company is a specialized piece of equipment that carries several tools, most of which for rescues and fires.  There are only currently 10 trucks in the city.

  2. SAFER Grant

    The contract shows significant concessions and I hope will go a long way in rebuilding a cooperative working relationship with Labor and Management.  The movement by Local 230 I know is not easy and the impacts will be challenging but is the right thing to do and the Executive Board should be commended for taking the action.  I hope the City Council will also do the right thing and move forward with the acceptance of the SAFER Grant which will provide funding to help increase the staffing levels which are needed.  The significant concessions on minimum staffing for Trucks from 5 to 4 which brings San Jose more in line with Departments of similar size provides flexibility for Fire Administration to deal with the daily staffing levels.  This along with the new deployment methodology in place will be very helpful, but the reduction of four Engines and one truck from last year’s budget shortfall can be somewhat mitigated with the SAFER grant.  Fire Administration has the expertise to manage the two year grant and I hope the City Council will provide them the opportunity.


  3. Hey how much directly or indirectly is Reed holding out of the budget to get the “A’s” baseball team here? ($200 mil?)Sure lay off employees and blame Unions for the budget mess. Remember Reed when you point at the Unions, there are 3 fingers pointing back at you!

  4. Today’s Mercury newspaper has Opinion ” Nothing comical about Liccardo’s change of heart “

    while same opinion online ” Opinion: Good grief—will San Jose council go back on its word?

    “Mayor Chuck Reed and the council asked employees for a 10 percent cut in total compensation, lower pensions for new hires and options to address pension costs for current employees. Firefighters and employees from three other unions—Local 21, Association of Engineers and Architects, City Association of Management Personnel and the Association of Maintenance Supervisory Personnel—agreed. That’s right, we agreed. We provided the mayor and council with exactly what they asked for.”

    FINALLY some progress and Liccardo wants to have more mean negative politics and beat up city employees some more to further his political career and run for Mayor – Disgusting

    ” City leaders told us they weren’t prepared yet to address pension reform. They needed more time. We agreed. ”

    AFTER YEARS OF TALKING ABOUT PENSION REFORM – Mayor, Council and City Manager ARE NOT READY TO TALK ABOUT REFORM – When will they be ready to ACTUALLY REFOTM CITY PENSIONS, when they are out of office or San Jose is bankrupt   Time to FIRE City staff responsible for pension reform is they are not ready or is it ALL POLITICAL

    “Then the city signed a tentative agreement with the firefighters, and 95 percent of firefighters ratified it. Today, the council is set to take a final vote on the contract. Yet in a memo issued Friday, Liccardo proposed a “time out” and a do-over on negotiations.”

    “His grandstanding and gamesmanship have real consequences. Foremost is the credibility of the City Council. The council sought and received a 10 percent cut, pension reform and other reforms. Now Liccardo wants more. That’s called a bait-and-switch, and it’s wrong.”

    IT’s mean nasty San Jose POLITICS by untrustworthy politicians

  5. “Top ten ways to tell if you might be a member of a public-sector union” By David Letterman.
    10.) You take a week off to protest in Wisconsin and your office runs better.
    9.) On a snow day, when they say “non-essential” people should stay home you know who they mean.
    8.) You get paid twice as much as a private sector person doing the same job but make up the difference by doing half as much work.
    7.) It takes longer to fire you than the average killer spends on death row.
    6.) The worse you do your job, the more your boss avoids you.
    5.) You think the French are working themselves to death.
    4.) You know by having a copy of the Holy Koran on your desk your job is 100% safe.
    3.) You spend more time at protest marches than at church.
    2.) You have a Democratic congressman’s lips permanently attached to your butt.
    And the #1 way to tell if you might be a member of a public sector union:
    1.) You pay more in union dues than you do for your healthcare insurance.

    • According to union sympathizers on SJI it’s Chuck Reed who has turned the citizens of San Jose against the unions.
      Looks like our mayor has gotten to David Letterman too!

        • “Whatever is in fashion is what every body does”

          You mean like getting a government job so you can retire early and live off the money mailed to you by people who actually earned it?

          Yeah, I guess you’re right EB.

        • JOHN GALT how many of your friends have died of cancer I had over a dozen die of cancer all firefighters and none lived past to be 60 so you think they earned their retirement?

        • Johhny B,
          If you’re paid over 100K/year you ought to be expected to save for your own retirement.
          And if you’re right about all firefighters dying young then it shouldn’t be too hard because you’re only having to save for a very short retirement.

        • John,
          With all due respect, there was no need for that type of response from you. If you read what Johnny wrote, he was talking about his own experience with 12 coworkers he knew dying of cancer, not “all firefighters dying young”. In my opinion, your bitterness towards firefighters and city workers in general over shadows any good points you may have.

        • “You mean like getting a government job so you can retire early and live off the money mailed to you by people who actually earned it?”

          Evidently not. You don’t have a government job, do you??? DUH. Why is is that you continually make such asinine statements?

        • Johnny B,

          Urban Myth. Public safety employees average life span is the same as non-public safety employees via data from calpers. Yes, one person may die young just like people from other occupations die of cancer young at 40 for example.

  6. Taxpayers will pay for City Hall politicians giving unions, City Manager and staff high pensions and will now pay again for Council politics and City Manager and staff incompetence in not be prepared to discuss fixing pension problems

    Of course unions agreed to delay addressing pensions reforms

    Doesn’t City Manager and staff have a personal conflict of interest in delaying pension reforms since they also receive the high unsustainable pension ?

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