RE: editorial, "City Union Workers Watch Out"
Original post made by anon on Sep 19, 2008
Firefighters work 10 regular days per month and most have the option to sign up for virtually unlimited overtime at time and one half pay. The employer (Pleasanton taxpayers here) supplies not only the "room and board" but generally pays for premium cable fees and internet access (to alleviate boredom), workout equipment (to keep them in shape) and a better living facility than many residents in this town could afford. There are few, if any, limits to what firefighters can do while on duty as long as they remain available for response. Many have second jobs that they successfully run while being paid by taxpayers as firefighters. They have very generous pay and pensions.
Yes, firefighters CAN have a dangerous job. Fire prevention in the last few years has become so good that the majority of assistance calls are medical in nature. This is a good thing but please get off the soapbox that firemen "constantly run into burning buildings." The Pleasanton FD were not first responders to the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Speaking of pensions -- did you know that ANY firefighter in California who retires on a disability will collect their entire pension tax free for life? Their current pension structure will pay them 80% of their final earnings (with raises every time a new contract is negotiated) for life -- TAX FREE. Now you see why every firefighter starts the evidence trail from day one about every "injury" adding toward their eventual "disability" retirement.
Speaking as one who values hard work, I have never had a problem with paying public safety officers a more than average salary. I object to the excessive benefits package, particularly the tax free pensions and medical coverage, that has contributed to a hard line on the part of city managers throughout California. This is not unique to Pleasanton and it needs to stop. A two tiered system is a start since no current employees are willing to get off the gravy train.
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