News

Firefighters to get 3% raises in each of next 4 years

Contract proposal goes to City Council tonight

Unionized firefighters in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department are being offered 3% pay increases each year over the next four years in a new contract proposal that will be considered by the Pleasanton City Council tonight.

The proposed contract, to be discussed at a public hearing, will cover all employees of the department through fiscal year 2017/2018 at a cost of $2.45 million, to be shared by the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore which operate the department under a joint powers agreement.

As part of the proposed agreement, union members also will increase payment of their pension contributions by an additional 3% during the term of the contract, for a total contribution of 12% at the end of the 3-1/2-year agreement.

The contract, negotiated over the last six months with the International Association of Firefighters, Local 1974, covers a total of 104 sworn fire personnel, and replaces an earlier contract that expired last June 30. The portion of Pleasanton's obligation for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, is approximately $170,000 in unbudgeted costs, which will be paid out of the city's General Fund.

Tonight's council meeting will start at 7 p.m. in the Pleasanton Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Terri
a resident of Livermore
on Jan 20, 2015 at 10:32 am

Great news!! Well deserved!


Like this comment
Posted by carlos
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 20, 2015 at 12:59 pm

What will be the base pay for a firefighter at the end of the contract?


1 person likes this
Posted by Spudly
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Jan 20, 2015 at 3:30 pm

I don't know for sure but gut feeling is this is a faster climb than private industry and it comes with a full pension. Sounds pretty good but not so much so for all the people that have to pay for it:)


2 people like this
Posted by Chemist
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 20, 2015 at 3:36 pm

The City cannot afford to keep giving raises to unionized workers when the workers paying the taxes are not getting raises. Many private workers are seeing wages cut, hours cut, etc. Glad to see that fire fighters are paying some of their retirement plan, but, here again, those in private industry are paying all of their retirement plans, or, sometimes seeing a 50/50 matching contribution from their employers. No one in the private sector has a retirement plan as generous as these city workers, and on top of that the taxpayers are paying 88% of the deductions - if I am reading this correctly. Whoever is negotiating for the taxpayers must be working for the union.


12 people like this
Posted by Microbiologist
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Chemist, You sound very bitter. I work with many chemists who make much more than firefighters and have made and have potential to make much more in company stock. The private sector has picked up again. If you are truly a chemist, get your resume out there. You are not stuck, there are plenty of jobs.
Thank you firefighters!!


13 people like this
Posted by Pro Firefighter
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 20, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Private vs. public...each has drawbacks and each has its benefits. While you're maligning the labor unions, perhaps you should take a look a where the big taxpayer dollars are going. It's not hard to connect the dots from taxpayer dollars to corporate tax breaks to huge bonuses and salaries in the private sector. How about expressing some disdain for the corporate welfare that is killing the American middle class? No? Okay, continue to pick on the firefighters and teachers.


1 person likes this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 5:22 pm

To "Pro Firefighter",

I know it is a cliche, but two wrongs don't make a right.


4 people like this
Posted by Pro Firefighter
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 20, 2015 at 7:03 pm

Yes, of course, BobB...Let's chastise the mouse for eating the crumb left behind by the elephant that stole the loaf.


4 people like this
Posted by 10 Year Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 8:15 pm

Failure to manage public expenses has gotten a lot of cities in trouble. Salaries are usually the largest expense. It's good to have skeptical eyes on these deals.

Are the city's tax revenues also scheduled to rise by 3% every year for the next 4 years? Have revenues risen enough over the past 4 years to ensure that this salary boost is "already paid for" on top of previous raises?

Also, how well funded is the firefighter's pension? How will increasing the base salaries by 12% affect the actuarial balance 4 years from now? Is the increase in the employees' contribution from 9% of pay to 12% of pay enough to close any gaps that exist? All of that should be public information.


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 10:13 pm

Pro Firefighter,

Mouse? Crumbs? Big tax payer dollars are going to pensions. Your comment makes no sense


2 people like this
Posted by Fire Engineer
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 20, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Chemist, you are reading it wrong. The 12% that the Union Firefighters will be paying is not their percentage of their retirement, but 12% of their annual salary to fund their retirement. This is not just a LPFD increase but for all California Union Firefighters in CalPERS this goes into effect next year. Taxpayers do not fund their pensions. The City's liability changes from year to year. In good years, they pay less or nothing at all, and in tighter times, they pay more. It's the same as Employer Matching Contributions as in your Private Sector.


2 people like this
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 10:35 pm

10 Year Resident is asking all the right questions.

Pensions costs are set to increase by 50% of payroll over a few short years, and that means an increase in pension contributions of over 20 percent of payroll, or OVER 20K per every 100K of payroll. That isn't sustainable. Why is Pleasanton willing to increase wages by 12%, which also increases pension costs (and many other costs including banked vacation, sick leave, and disability premiums), when pension costs alone are consuming an ever increasing percentage of the GF? The tiny contribution by employees is really nothing more that giving back a small percentage of their raise while increasing their pension payout.


Aren't the retroactive pension benefits enough for these people? Should taxpayers also be obligated to continue to provide raises to a group of employees that are already overpaid?

When taxpayers are being asked to fund the unfunded pension liability of employees that are basically promised 100K PLUS pensions, PLUS lifetime medical benefits, as early as age 50, while the employees and CalPERS have raided their own pension plan stealing what amounted to a taxpayer reserve ... something is very wrong.

10 Year Resident says: Are the city's tax revenues also scheduled to rise by 3% every year for the next 4 years? Have revenues risen enough over the past 4 years to ensure that this salary boost is "already paid for" on top of previous raises?

The answer is NO! And the cost of these employees will increase well beyond the 3% per year you're referring to. When Nelson F. sold the last PD contract to the public he pointed to cost savings while failing to acknowledge all the giveaways. I hope he's more honest with this bad contract. The truth is the FD employee cost is going through the roof!


6 people like this
Posted by Fire Engineer
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 20, 2015 at 10:54 pm

Arnold, You have allot of misinformation. You believe everything that the media has told you. Here is an article that should better educate you on firefighters retirements.

December 10, 2014: Local 1775 Labor Seminar
The Truth About Firefighter Retirement Benefits

Firefighters often retire earlier, and earn a higher percentage of their salary in retirement than many other professions besides law enforcement. There are many factors that contribute to the enhanced retirement benefits that firefighters have fought for over the past 50 years. Here are some facts that tend to be "overlooked" in reports on firefighter retirements, salaries and benefits:

Firefighters do not receive Social Security

Because firefighters (like other public employees) are not eligible to receive Social Security, their employers - the cities and counties - do not pay the 6+% payroll tax for Social Security. While the employers see a payroll cost saings, this also means retired firefighters can't collect the Social Security benefirt available to all other Americans. The lack of Social Security benefits and the associated payroll savings to local government is rarely mentioned in discussions about public employee benefits. Because firefighters can't collect social security, they have negotiated increased retirement benefits.

Firefighters typically work 56 hours per week and earn 40% less per hour

A 56 hour work-week is 40% more hours than the average worker's 40 hour week. Firefighters in Marin work 48 hour shifts, and respond to emergencies at any hour, night or day, 365 days per year - even on holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving when virtually no one else is working. Because they work 40% more hours, but earn a salary comparable to any other technically skilled professional, their hourly wages are actually relatively low for a skilled profession. In Marin, the average fire engineer with 15 years of experience earns $32 per hour (salaries did not increase in the five years from 2008-2013). A comparable earner in the private sector makes 40% more per hour than a firefighter.

Shorter life expectancy

Firefighters have shorter life expectancies than the average population and are three times more likely to die on the job, due to inherent risks, physical and mental stresses, and exposures to toxic and carcinogenic compounds released in smoke. (source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, University of Cincinatti). Do not confuse rhetoric showing that "safety" members live as long as other employees! The majority of "safety" members in the retirement systems are corrections officers, law enforcement, probation and court employees and unlike firefighters do not have a reduced life expectancy from toxic exposures and other physical job stresses.

Firefighter Overtime is not included in retirement calculations

Firefighters can not "spike" their pensions with overtime or other perks, despite media reports to the contrary. Public employees fought to eliminate these wasteful and unfair practices more than 20 years ago. Retirements are calculated based on averaging the BASE salary over several years, and NEVER include any overtime pay or other wages that are not part of the base compensation. At least one local newspaper continues to print articles and editorials claiming firefighters include overtime in their retirements, despite being shown written contracts and legal rulings that prove their statements to be false.

Retirement savings goes back into the "system" when a firefighter-retiree dies

In a public defined benefit retirement system, when a firefighter dies, their retirement contributions and all earned interest go back into the"system" to help pay for other living retiree's benefits, unlike a private sector 401K where the retiree's family keeps 100% of their retirement contributions (and interest earnings and market growth) upon their death. A firefighter's spouse keeps only 50% of the retiree's benefits, unlike a private sector retiree's spouse who keeps 100%.

Firefighters are at Much Greater Risk for many Cancers

A new study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on mortality and cancer incidence in career fire fighters shows an elevated risk of several types of cancer - and of all cancers combined - compared to the general U.S. population.

Firefighters are at much greater risk than the general population for cancer: Type, Increased risk * Testicular cancer 102% * Multiple myeloma 53% * Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 51% * Skin cancer 39% * Brain cancer 32% * Prostate cancer 28% * Stomach cancer 22% * Colon cancer 21% The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2010.

Retirement savings are paid by employee

Firefighter retirement benefits are not paid by the "taxpayers," cities, counties or state. Benefits are deferred compensation, and are paid by the employee funded retirement systems (typically CALPERS or a 1937 act Retirement Fund which are not government agencies). These funds come from employee and employer contributions made while the employee was working, and the vast majority of benefits paid come from market growth and interest from the investment of those contributions. Out of every dollar that funds a firefigter's pension and health insurance plan, 100 cents comes from the workers because the "contributions" consist of money that employees chose, through negotiations, to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. If they had not negotiated and signed contracts for improved retirement security, these dollars would have been paid up front as salary or other benefits.

Firefighters contribute a minimum of 8-16% of ther salary towards retirement savings

Firefighters pay more into their retirement system than other public or private sector employees. In Marin, firefighters pay 8-16% of their salary towards retirement. By saving more towards retirement, they earn more once retired - no different than a 401K in the private sector.

How old is "Too Old" to rush into burning buildings?

Like the rest of the population, aging firefighters are at significantly higher risk of injury and illness - it is a young person's profession. Due to the extremely strenuous nature of the job (with little or no "warm up time,") firefighters suffer higher rates of disabling occupational injury . The older the firefighter, the more likely these injuries become, and recovery times (and cost) increase. These injuries are expensive to taxpayers and firefighters, decreasing quality of life and requiring expensive treatment, overtime pay to replace the injured worker which stresses already low staffing levels. Relatively low minimum retirement ages are a recognition of these factors above all else (much more so than the more widely reported life expectancy issue).

New firefighter retirement age: 57

It's a myth that all firefighters retire at 50 with 90% of their salary. The retirement age for all new firefighters in Marin is 57. While less than 1/2 of Marin firefighters were once allowed to retire by age 50 (most were able to retire at 55), few have the years of service by age 50 to retire at all, much less at 90%. The reason very few receive this level or benefit is that they would have had to start working age 20 to earn 30 years by age 50. Data shows that most firefighters start their careers between age 27-29, and is increasing as education and training requirements increase. Besides this, the majority of veteran firefighters pay into a 3 percent at age 55 retirement plan. They would need 37.5 years of service at age 50 to earn 90 percent, and would have had to start working at age 12.

Firefighters gave up pay and benefits to negotiate better retirements

When firefighters negotiated for enhanced retirement benefits (in recognition of the above factors) other potential benefits or salary enhancements are given up. This is the nature of collective bargaining. The cost to a city or municipality is no higher than if a comparable salary increase were negotiated in place of retirement benefits.

A dangerous, physically and technically demanding career

Firefighter jobs have become significantly more complex and technical over the past 30 years, with the additional responsibilities and training for Hazardous Materials Response, Emergency Medical Services, Homeland Security, Fire Prevention, Public Education and more. In return for providing more and better services to the community, firefighters negotiated for improved benefits and salaries, though their compensation has not risen as fast as other technical or dangerous jobs in the private sector.

As pay goes up, so does retirement savings

Young firefighters always pay more into the retirement system than current retirees did, ensuring the long term viability of the public defined benefit retirement systems. Firefighter salaries have risen over the decades, commensurate with increased skills and responsibilities, and increased cost of living. As salaries rise, so does retirement savings paid into the retirement system from firefighter paychecks.

Retirement system investments historically earn more than the Stock Market

CalPERS Investments outperformed Its 7.5 Percent target 13 out of the last 20 Fiscal Years. In September 2008, at the beginning of the 2008-2009 market decline, MCERA's fund stood at $1.26 billion. By February 2009, the fund value dropped by $275 million. As of October 2010, the fund had grown to $1.36 billion, recovering from the market loss and GAINING $100 million in additional investment returns.

The CalPERS fund continues to grow, earning more than $70 billion in investment returns since the financial crisis began. CalPERS recently reported a 12.5 percent return on investments for the one-year period ending December 31, 2010, well above its 7.75% assumed rate of return needed to pay long-term pensions. Source: MCERA, CALPERS

CalPERS (Public Employees retirement System) and MCERA (Marin County Employees Retirement Association)have billions of dollars of assets from employee and employer contributions and outstanding market growth from investment during the "boom years." PERS is the single largest investor in the stock market, and their investments have beaten the market even during the recent economic downturn.

When an employer (a city, county or district) pays "catch up" arrears to the retirement system, it is reported widely in the media because of the short-term spike in cost to a municipality's budget. This occurs when investments return less than actuarial predicted. What is NOT reported is that during economic upswings (most of the past 15 years) employers often paid NOTHING into the retirement system, because investment returns exceeded expectations.

How do Firefighter Salaries Compare?

Most firefighter salaries in Marin are low by Bay Area standards. For example, Marin County Fire Department pays its line personnel nearly a total compensation package that was up to 40% less than other similar sized county fire departments the Bay area, despite the fact that cost of living in Marin is higher.

Can a Firefighter Qualify for a Mortgage?

Few firefighters are able to afford to live in Marin or other affluent bay area communities were they work. Young firefighters often commute 2-3 hours (or more) to work, because of the cost of home ownership in the Bay Area, despite local governments claiming that their priority is to have emergency services employees live in the community for disaster preparedness. Of the 387 active professional firefighters in Marin, 274 live outside of the county (2010).

Salary VS Cost of Living

The average firefighter salary is not enough to qualify to purchase even below median priced homes in Marin, but is too high to qualify for housing subsidies that are supposed to encourage firefighters to live in Marin in case of local or regional disasters.

Overtime is Work

Firefighters in California tend to make up for their relatively low hourly wages by working overtime in addition to their already long work-week. It is almost always cheaper for employers to hire back off-duty firefighters on overtime than hiring additional personnel. During the summer months firefighters are doing the risky business of wildland firefighting, often gone from their families, working 12-24 hour shifts on the fireline without rest. Overtime for fighting fires outside of the county is reimbursed to the cities, including administrative and overhead fees, in such a way that there is NO COST to the cities and towns for this common overtime pay. Like many private sector employees, many firefighters depend on this extra work to help make ends meet.

Dangerously Low Staffing Levels

Fire engines in Marin are dangerously understaffed, with most agencies choosing to forego the additional cost of staffing their department would need to meet the minimum standards outlined by the National Fire Protection Association - at a great cost in safety to the community and firefighters. While most Marin fire engines have only two firefighters, the NFPA recommends a minimum of four - studies show that four firefighters are required to perform the most basic firefighting tasks. A minimum of four firefighters is required by OSHA before interior structure firefighting can occur. This means you need two fire engines to arrive at your home before firefighters can even begin the dangerous process of attacking the fire.

Firefighters have accepted pay and benefits cuts during the economic downturn. Salaries have been cut, retirements have been "rolled back," second tiers added, and benefits reduced in order to help local goverments and municipalities balance budgets.

Firefighters Pay Taxes

Firefighters are citizens and taxpayers who understand more than most the benefit of contributing to their communities. Firefighters have sworn a commitment to protect our communities, our assets, and our local economy from the effects of fire, natural and man-made disasters, and other costly emergencies.

Dispelling other myths and misconceptions about public employee retirement:

FACT: The current economic crisis was driven by Wall Street excesses and corporate abuses, not factory workers, teachers, firefighters or police officers. This crisis is the real threat to retirement security for ALL Californians.

FACT: Cutting retirement for public employees does nothing to solve California's current budget problems. Small budget decreases would be seen in 16-18 years for benefit cuts enacted today.

FACT: Opportunistic politicians are using the national economic crisis to blame teachers, police, nurses and firefighters for the nation's economic problems rather than putting responsibility where it belongs - on politicians, Wall Street, and the impact of corporate excesses on stock market performance.

FACT: The average public employee retirement benefit in California is $24,000 a year. 75% of all retirees earn less than $30,000 a year.

FACT: The majority of high pensions ($100,000+) are received by top level management - not ordinary working folks like line firefighters, police officers, nurses or teachers.

FACT: Artificially inflated retirement payouts ("Pension Spiking") are absolutely opposed by firefighter labor unions. They are wrong, and associate everyone with immoral excesses by a few. Ordinary working people should not be punished for the excesses of a few.

FACT: MCERA has bounced back and recovered the market losses. The fund was down to $1.25 billion in 2008, and is now $1.36 billion through market recovery and growth.


2 people like this
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 11:05 pm

Too much to take on point by point. I'll just say everything you've stated, which comes directly from the FF Union, has been disputed, diminished, or disproved.

The FD is a vital service in every community. The structure of the FD needs to progress into the currnt century while understanding that service delivery can improve at a reduced cost. The cost of the FD is outrageous.


7 people like this
Posted by Fire Engineer
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 20, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Arnold,

So Angry and Bitter.

Again,you must believe that the media only reports on the truth. And politicians never lie either. Go on hating your fire department, and the day you call 911, and they put out a fire at your residence, your business or save your life, then maybe you will appreciate the service they provide to the community.

My last point, I think you're forgetting, I PAY THE SAME TAXES YOU DO.


6 people like this
Posted by Fire Engineer
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 21, 2015 at 12:21 am

ARNOLD, sorry hit submit before I was done.

I'm guessing you're complete knowledge of how Firefighter's retirement had cost cities money, you're referring to the two recent incidents in San Jose and Vallejo that occurred in the last couple years.

Are these two cities participating in CalPERS?

The answer is no, both cities decided years ago they could manage their retirement better and ran their own systems. So these city's leaders are the ones to blame for mismanaged funds and poor decision making.


2 people like this
Posted by stop the abuse
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 21, 2015 at 6:01 am

@ fire engineer -- "My last point, I think you're forgetting, I PAY THE SAME TAXES YOU DO."

That is the easiest target from your union written diatribe. No you DO NOT likely pay the same taxes as I do. The reason is that every firefighter is trained from day one of employment how to start working on their so-called disability retirement. Every time they stub their toe, on or off duty, they turn it into a work related injury. And when they retire they collect their entire pension tax free. For life.

No, Mr union spokesman, you absolutely DO NOT pay the same taxes that I do. I pay to fund your retirement AND to pay your taxes.


1 person likes this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Jan 21, 2015 at 9:26 am

@"stop the abuse": "The reason is that every firefighter is trained from day one of employment how to start working on their so-called disability retirement. The reason is that every firefighter is trained from day one of employment how to start working on their so-called disability retirement. Every time they stub their toe, on or off duty, they turn it into a work related injury. And when they retire they collect their entire pension tax free."

I'm curious: Do you know of any studies that report on what percentage of all firefighters retire on disability? Also, please explain the "they collect their entire pension tax free" statement. Pensions in general are not tax-free. Are you saying that firefighter pensions enjoy special treatment?


3 people like this
Posted by Livermore Resident
a resident of Livermore
on Jan 21, 2015 at 11:10 am

Why is fire engineer the only one stating facts? Looks like some of the others need to get better educated before making bold statements with no validity. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But Statements without facts just makes people appear to be ignorant. Thanks Fire engineer for "trying" to educate and only posting factual info.


2 people like this
Posted by stop the abuse
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 21, 2015 at 11:15 am

@ Damon -- I do not know the disability retirement stats but I do know how it works. CA tax law (code section 104.1) overrules Federal law with regard to the disability pensions of all public safety employees. The Feds would like to tax those retirements, CA makes them tax free for life. Another great deal is that once a disability award is made it can NEVER be challenged. Witness the retired SJFD employee (you know who you are) who claimed to be so completely disabled that even walking was too painful. He was granted 100% tax free status and now plays golf right here in town nearly every day. And surfs on his Hawaiian vacations. And guess who pays for all of that? The taxpayers pay for his retirement AND we pay the taxes on it.


2 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Jan 21, 2015 at 11:38 am

@"stop the abuse": "I do not know the disability retirement stats but I do know how it works. CA tax law (code section 104.1) overrules Federal law with regard to the disability pensions of all public safety employees."

I did a quick search, but I was unable to find a section 104.1 to the California tax code. Also, I'm confused by the statement that CA tax law "overrules" Federal (tax) law. I don't believe that states have any say on what the Federal government regards as income for Federal income tax purposes.


4 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 22, 2015 at 10:16 am

These guys deserve even more of a raise. In their last contract they lost 9% to retirement increases. Now they gain 12% but lose 3% more back into retirement which makes the raise a wash. So in the past 7 years or so they have not even gotten a raise consistent with inflation. Meanwhile, Pleasanton is being forced to provide more low income housing because it is the city's responsibility to make sure someone working at burger king here can live here also. So how many firefighters can afford to live here? I'm guessing not many. But they make too much to qualify for the low income so I guess we are OK with having them commute and not be a part of our community, but our fast food workers need to be a part of our community. Maybe that's why we had an attempted murder in town a couple weeks ago, there is graffiti popping up everywhere, burglaries are on the rise.......


2 people like this
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2015 at 7:05 pm

Mike, [removed]

Stop The Abuse, the disability retirement bonanza is real. Unfortunately the threshold is so low, and the enforcement so low, many do not fear gettting caught. As far as paying taxes go, you will be hard-pressed to fing public employee unions not supporting incresaed sales taxes, parcel taxes,city fees, etc... While they will also pay the tax it's more likely than not to provide additional fundinging (city, special district, county) which will make its way onto their paycheck. Increased taxes, essentially, represent a net gain in public employee union pay, and and a net loss for the rest of us. So the argument that they too pay increased taxes, fees etc... is a bit disengenous.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anti-Public unions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2015 at 8:32 pm

On another thread a writer said a "3% COLA can become $60K in just 10 years". Is this a raise or COLA. I don't know how there can be any COLA at all, when in NOV. there was a .3% DECLINE to the Index, again in DEC there was a .4% DECLINE. So only fools would give out future increases, when have DECLINES (will they give back during current decline?). So, was this a permanent wage increase for just showing up. Raise, added to next year's raise, added to following year's increases, added to another increase.....guaranteed, from professionals who aren't working. A four year commitment from taxpayers, when many still don't have real 'jobs', just temp assignments. It is all so overwhelming and unrealistic...truly shameful. We didn't learn anything from the CA crisis. As bad as the team in Sacramento who made long-term promises, with no way to pay on those promises...we haven't even dealt with that yet. I guess taxpayers could sum it up as, not a very bright future.


1 person likes this
Posted by lll
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 22, 2015 at 8:33 pm

Tired of public employees using the argument that they do not get social security. True, they do not pay into it and neither does the employer. However, I think this is the solution to the problem. Stop the public employee retirement system and put the employees into social security and have 401(k) programs. Good enough for the taxpayers so good enough for the public employees.

Since the payments into a pension system are supposed to the be actuarial cost to provide the benefits, there should be enough money in the system now to cover the benefits. Otherwise this would be a pyramid scheme.

It is criminal that the contributions into the system are not sufficient to cover benefits as we have been hearing. We should be completely funding the benefits to know what the real cost is. Otherwise we are stealing from the future generation of taxpayers that will have to pay this underfunded amount.


7 people like this
Posted by Civil Servant
a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2015 at 10:00 pm

Arnold, I generally don't participate in the comment section(s)of information perodicals however, this one has caught my attention for the ignorance you seem to be clouded with. My first rub is your slanderous comment about Firefighters are taught from day one, how to start working on thier disability retirement. As challenging as it is to respond politely to that remark, I'll just say, in my thirty plus years of cival service, I missed that lesson plan. I have moved many injured patients over 300 lbs and some over 500 lbs requiring doors to be removed from hinges for access/ egress, and sometimes requiring 4-6 brothers to lift. Fortunately, once the patient is secured to a back board, we only have to lift them 2-3 feet off the ground to a gurney that is now "powered" for additional lift. There have been times these patients are on a second floor, can you imagine 4 firefighters on the stairs carring down a 300 lb patient? Well, you see, I can, and I've had major back surgery with a spinal fusion in my future. Maybe when you have time to see what that operation entails, you won't be so quick to pipeoff about disability retirement. I'm still working in the same capicity, my future medical covers my narcotics which include norcos for pain and valium so I can get 6 hours of sleep on my days off, I just manage the pain, drug free at work. I'm sure my liver is angry, but I have a generous retirement to enjoy, or do I? I know several brothers who have delt with cancer and cardiac issues-some retired, others deceased, as a result, in fact, fresh out of high school and in my community college introduction to fire tech class, the instructor advised us "the average life expectancy was 5-10 years post retirement" for firemen. Fortunately, education and safety policy have enhanced that number. One things for sure, I won't be jogging with my kids now. speaking of kids, any guess what the toughest calls are for many of us? comforting the parents (and family) from their children's tragic death, violent car, train, trauma and suicide, and then going home to our family as though, all we've been doing is shining our fire engines. Fighting fires is the easy part, you put the wet stuff on the hot stuff. Our career is a little more dynamic then waiting for something to happen. Next time you smell something odd, fall at 3 in the morning and can't get up, have a water leak, child locked in a car, oven, chimney, roof, automobile, dryer, structure or grass fire, just call, we'll come, we'll smile, mitigate, and do all we can to make you feel better.
Over compensated? I guess that's all opinion. Are you a home owner? How do you feel about paying thousands of dollars over the years, for home owner's insurance you never use? Are you willing to shorten your life span for a rewarding career you are proud of? Do you have a career, that when you make a difference, and have a feeling of pride for helping save a person's home property or life? Probably not. Peace be with you my friend.


4 people like this
Posted by Firefighter Friendly
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 23, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Again with the hatred for public service employees! Good grief people.


Like this comment
Posted by Bad Contract
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2015 at 2:30 pm

The 2.45 million increased cost doesn't begin to tell the "rest of the story." The increased cost per employee will be significantly greater than what Pleasanton management is claiming. Since they, management & city council, already know this, I can only deduce that they don't want the taxpayers to know.

This contract is just a continuation of the bad contracts that have been signed-off on for the past 15 years. It represents the worst of local government; management teams that are on the same side of the bargaing table as the employees (i.e. if the employees don't get raises it's difficult for management to justify themselves getting raises). This contract give-away costs way too much money to an organization taxpayers still owe 10's of millions of dollars to for the previous bad contracts.

With the FD's cost for pensions set to increase by 50%, and the retiree medical benefits well underfunded, there isn't any reason for city management, or the Pleasanton city bargaining team, to be giving away money Pleasanton doesn't have. What I'm seeing is disgusting. The FD compensation is already a chart topper.


Like this comment
Posted by Bad Contract
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2015 at 4:18 pm

And I'll state it very bluntly, this taxpayer abusive contract shouldn't see the light of day. And, every single city official that has signed-off on this overly generous contract, including the council members in support of this contract, should at least have the decency to articulate the actual cost increase heading the taxpayers way. Both of these groups should understand that when talking about the increased cost of the contract (2.45 million) they are parsing words. The truth is the contract will be increasing by an alarming rate even absent the FD raise. The raises are compounding an already alarming amount of Pleasanton debt.

Did either the bargaing unit or the city council members supporting this fiasco even mention the "other" costs? No they did not! Nor have they mentioned a slew of other perks that will also raise employee costs while costing taxpayers millions more.

Enough is Enough! When will this city start putting the taxpayers first? And when will Nelson Fiallo start getting real?


Like this comment
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2015 at 3:54 am

Jeb, do you actually believe this contract serves the public? I don't. I think this contract is a net-negative which will continue to place pleasanton taxpayers behind the eight-ball. If City management were to look at a ten year budget there is no way they could approve this contract.

There are just way to many financial hurdles (pensions & health care costs) to justify any increased compensation. And for every 10 percent in increased wages, given the impact on a number of cost components, the cost increases by a factor of about 1.45.

That 1.45% factor is true today, meaning a 10 percent raise increases direct payroll cost by 14.5%. That doesn't include the Calpers cost of pensions set to increase by as much as 50% over the next few years. Add the two together and we're talking an escalating cost increase that even the Pleasanton budget can't keep up with absent increased taxes.

Jeb, have you also been paying attention to how pension costs, both CalPERS & CalSTRS, are about to destroy the pusd BUDGET?

Parents beware!


Like this comment
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2015 at 2:39 am

Unionized firefighters in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department are "being offered 3% pay increases each year over the next four years in a new contract proposal that will be considered by the Pleasanton City Council tonight."

If the Pleasanton Council approves the contract they should be ashamed.


Like this comment
Posted by lll
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 3, 2015 at 10:15 am

Raises should not be given until we fully fund the salary and benefits we are giving them today. This is just irresponsible.

What I think the council should ask for is a graph of the actual costs per employee (salary and benefits) going back to 2000, as well as the liability per employee (underfunded pensions, retiree medical). We should not be talking about salary by itself. It is part of the compensation package. The city seems to be saying "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."


Like this comment
Posted by Anti-Public unions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2015 at 10:15 am

They are operating out of the realm of reality. Wrong. So wrong! Much too generous, considering the numbers of workers who are working two part-time jobs, with NO benefits, instead for the FULL time higher positions they had for years.....before 'the mess'.
We appreciate them, but compared to other fire depts. we have zero 7 story building (ladder height) and we likely never will in our lifetimes.
They whole thing is disgusting, unfair, over-priced, unrealistic.


Like this comment
Posted by Devon
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 22, 2015 at 3:03 pm

It is very interesting how the reaction on here is mixed. If, for some reason, "firefighters" was substituted with "teachers", there would be so much more negativity on here it would make me sick even though both are PUBLIC SECTOR.
Oh the hypocrisy!


Like this comment
Posted by Lugnut
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 23, 2015 at 10:00 am

The term Public Employee seems to be defined as the Rank and File. It doesn't bring into play Management and Executive Management Pensions and their double dipping practices. Councilmembers ignore their increases because the Exec and Management Staff keep them from getting their butts into "hot water". Nobody discusses their wage increases/pensions, except maybe former Councilmember Kay Ayala, and how it affects the " bottom line". I like the idea of paying the Rank and File a certain wage and Managers no more than 10% above that. Then watch what happens!!! Or how about those citizens volunteer to be police, firefighters, teachers, water, sewer, streets, parks, clerical workers, etc., etc. How about it Jerry? You talk about innovative ideas. Pay your Exec Up To and no more than 10% above their Management Teams, Management Teams up to 10% above Supervisors, Supervisors etc., etc.?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Battle over downtown Livermore plan heats up
By Tim Hunt | 4 comments | 1,166 views

Couples: Sex and Connection (Chicken or Egg?)
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 630 views