Posted by Mike Mohun, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Oct 17, 2012 at 8:53 am
My name is Mike Mohun. I am the Union President for the San Ramon Valley Firefighters, Local 3546 of the International Association of Firefighters. I agree that you should be informed when you go to the poles to vote.
If after reading this response, you want not to elect our endorsed candidates, I respect your opinion, admire your initiative and support your informed decision. Because it is you the citizen that I work for, and you the citizen whom I have dedicated my life to serving. I want what is best for you, and believe this is true for every firefighter that works in this community on your behalf.
We have never tried to hide my earnings or benefits from you. If you feel we deserve less, then we are at your disposal. We want only to be able to provide for our families in a responsible manner. I did not become a banker, or a stock broker. I became a paramedic and firefighter because my life's desire was to take care of others. I am compensated a wage for the service I provide. The most influential force on my wage is the economy. We will see cuts, and continue to see them as long as the economy declines.
When I became President of the local just a few months ago, my first objective was to resolve negotiations as soon as possible. It is my desire to have negotiations complete before the end of the year. We are aware of the publics outrage, and though we do not feel responsible, we do possess a sense of responsibility. With this, my team has given the Fire District a very generous proposal. What I can not understand is why the current Fire Board has neglected to respond to our offer which concedes wages, benefits, and retirement reform, all offered prior to the State Legislation's reform Bill 340, and at a time where the employees I represent have experienced a wage freeze for several years and, if our proposal is excepted, a wage freeze and wage concessions over the course of the next four years.
This Fire Board has had our offer for over a month and have not provided us with a response of any kind. Why? It would serve to support the argument that we are running candidates with the intent to manipulate the negotiations process.
If we can negotiate a contract within the next couple of weeks, then there will be no need for us to run candidates for contracts, wages or benefits. I know the political economic environment we are in, and that many people are angry. Why would I be so naive so as to run controversial people for Board knowing that it would provoke such a response.
First: We have a fire Chief who is working for one dollar a month. He is receiving full retirement. It has been decided that it is time for him to leave. His scheduled departure is for the end of the year. The board gave the directive to hire a recruiting firm to hire a new fire chief, and with much time to accomplish the task before the January 1, 2013. Yet management has stalled the process to the extent that hiring a new Chief within the year is difficult if not impossible.
Second: Our current second in command, the Operations Chief,has only a few months experience in his position. The Board failed to fill this important Assistant Chief Level vacancy several months before he was appointed and only then at the Union's insistence. Prior to that appointment, it was management's desire and the Board's apparent intent to rehire the previous Assistant Chief on Double wages, which would have given him a salary of hundreds of thousands of dollars including his retirement. The Union argued against and was successful in preventing this from occurring. We know too well how we are being perceived by the citizens, and knew it then. The Board was not prepared because of a lack of succession planning, and the position remained precariously vacant for several months, and may have remained vacant for several more had we not intervened.
Third: One of our two assistant chiefs has retired leaving a vacancy open in yet another key level position.
Fourth: There is a very real possibility that we will have another key level position, vacated, leaving two upper level management positions vacated in January of 2013 in addition to the vacated Chief position. We have advised this board to plan for this event to no avail.
Fifth: Due to the heavy concessions I have proposed, in addition to State level reform, there is a real possibility that we will retire over 25% of our employees including captains and engineers, and though many of you would agree that we respond to a proportionately low number of fire calls, it does not make the responses we do respond to less dangerous, and even more dangerous to the employee and citizen with the lower level of experience we will have.
Sixth: If the $75.00 annual parcel tax does not pass in Contra Costa County, then our engines and ambulances will be responding more frequently into Walnut Creek and Concord, with a fire agency we have not trained with, a new radio system not yet implemented, and young inexperienced companies. As the senior Representative for this agencies employees and their safety, I am absolutely terrified of the consequences.
Our team realizes the need for stability and the lack of stability we are currently experiencing. I do not trust that some members on our Fire Board are capable of meeting the challenges we face.
Gordon Dakin has been our Fire board President. He does not compromise efficiency and effective delivery of Fire and Emergency services. He understands the danger we are facing and, as a citizen of the Valley, feels compelled to act on your behalf to protect you. The only way he knows to do this successfully is to become a Board member. When he was on this Fire Board his direction saved the District over a million dollars annually. He refused to compromise his principles. He refused to entertain concessions to employees.. There is no indication to me that he would concede to this Union anything in the form of wages or salaries.
Gerardo Peniche has experience in technology and in human resources. I expect that Gerardo will analyze and evaluate our current I.T. division and find significant savings by downgrading what may be an unreasonably expensive process. He has experience in public relations and team building. With what we are currently experiencing with mass retirements on the horizon, decreased morale, and the significant concessions and wage cuts, he is the ideal candidate to help us through this environment.
Steve Mohun has experience as a Chief Financial Officer, and has been a Certified Public Accountant for over 30 years. The Fire District has been spending into reserves and we are told will continue to do so into the future. If, after his analysis he decides the employees will have to contribute more in the way of concessions, we would comply willingly, knowing he could be trusted. I know that I can trust Steve. I have not had this kind of trust for all members of the current Board.
The citizens have come to trust us. You trust us with your sick family members. You trust us in your homes, with your property and possessions. You trust that when we come to your aid, we do so with a desire to do what is best. We are dedicated to our profession and are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice to accomplish what may seem impossible.
Why then would we not expect the same level of dedication and commitment from our Board members, the same expectation of trust from them that you have come to experience from us. We're not politicians. We are not financiers. We live humble lifestyles. We respect honor, integrity, loyalty to family, to our work, and to you. And if we suspect that the people that influence our ability to protect you fail us, then we will do what it takes to find someone to replace them. And we have found them.