Union takes too much to pass levy | Letter to the Editor

Fire District 28 again wants the taxpayers to pony up a larger percentage of their income so that those working in this government agency can receive a compensation package so beyond anything in the private industry it is proof as to why firefighters will tell you "It's a great gig" with a big smile on their face.

  • Thursday, April 21, 2016 4:30pm
  • Opinion

Fire District 28 again wants the taxpayers to pony up a larger percentage of their income so that those working in this government agency can receive a compensation package so beyond anything in the private industry it is proof as to why firefighters will tell you “It’s a great gig” with a big smile on their face.

When a fire department has a job opening they will receive hundreds if not thousands of applications. So it’s not a supply and demand thing, it’s simply a demand from unions firefighters for massive amounts of money from taxpayers.

Here are some highlights of a firefighters incredible compensation package. Taxpayers pay 100 percent of the health care insurance. They have a $1,500 deductible on their health insurance yet the commissioners gave union members $5,000 a year cash in an HSA account. This allows these government employees to have little to no out of pocket

Saving the best for last, the fire district opted out of social security. They don’t pay a dime to Social Security. But each month they are paid the amount that the employer (the taxpayers) would pay into Social Security. Firefighter have what’s called LEOFF for their retirement. Social Security will be bankrupt in a few years so why would anyone want to be part of Social Security. They’re not. Yet they receive Social Security payments up front, in their pocket each month.

The union has so much power that volunteers are limited to extremely poor compensation for their service. If they are paid more than $25 a call the union will likely file a grievance. Union compensation including all pay and benefits for a medium first class firefighter is over $60 an hour. But the chief can’t offer a reasonable compensation for volunteers to help increase their numbers because the union doesn’t want them. They want more full time union firefighter.

The usual suspects will call me a liar as they did during the last Proposition 1 levy. All the above information comes from the Fire District 28 office. Pass Prop 1 and you will agree with everything the union firefighters are taking from the taxpayers.

Randy Fehr has done a good job as the new chief but has far less power than the union when it comes to controlling spending at the fire district. In 2015 there were 14 full time employees. The taxpayers pay for all the training. The taxpayers pay for all their uniforms and gear. Average 24 hour call out’s are about six calls per shift. They are paid while they eat and sleep. They work two concurrent shifts and have four days off. And they want more taxpayers money because they don’t take enough.

If the union backs it down just a little I would agree a levy increase is needed. But the union is adamant that they are entitled to all the benefits they take from the taxpayers. I firmly disagree.

Ted DeVol


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