Daily Archives: August 25, 2010

An Introduction to El Segundo’s Fiscal Problems: The firefighter and police unions are the primary cause

by Michael D. Robbins
Director, Public Safety Project, PublicSafetyProject.org

August 25, 2010
(Updated March 15, 2012 – corrected police union raises from 15 percent to 15 to 23 percent.)

The City of El Segundo, California is at risk of losing its City Fire Department and eventually its City Police Department as a result of greatly excessive and unsustainable salaries, benefits, and pensions for its public employees, especially its fire and police union members. The fire and police unions obtained their excessive and unsustainable labor contracts from mayors and City Council members who received thousands of dollars of their campaign support.

The fire and police union members are the primary cause of El Segundo’s financial problems, yet they refuse to take reasonable and necessary pay cuts of at least 20 to 25 percent. These cuts are necessary for the firefighters and police unions to stop doing harm to the city, its residents, and its businesses. And these cuts are reasonable given the excessive firefighter and police pay, benefits, and pensions, and given their excessive raises during the current recession. The police union members received 15 to 23 percent increases and the firefighters union members received an 11.25 percent increase during the recession that they never should have received.

The firefighters’ and police officers’ unions are only considering a small 5 percent reduction in the scheduled pay increases provided by their current union contract. Instead of reasonable and necessary pay cuts to stop doing harm to the city, they demand that the city increase business taxes, create new fees for residents, eliminate and reduce city services, and contract with Los Angeles County for a reduced level of fire and paramedic services, including a loss of paramedic transport services. This takeover of the El Segundo city fire department by the county would protect the firefighter union members’ jobs, pay, and benefits.

The firefighters and police unions demand that all city employees take equal pay cuts. This is extremely unfair to the other city employees, who are paid less than one-fourth to one-half what the firefighters and police are paid, and who, unlike the firefighters and police union members, are not the primary cause of the city’s financial problems.

The El Segundo Firefighters Association (a fancy name for the firefighters labor union) reminds its members, on its official web site, “Remember, the Local 3682 Board of Directors, work to represent the collective interest of our general membership.”

Thus, the firefighters union admits what we already know, that it does not represent the interests of the residents and businesses in El Segundo when it endorses political candidates at election time, advocates public policy, and sponsors a voter initiative to force our city to lose our city fire department and paramedic transport services, and have to contract with Los Angeles County for inferior fire and paramedic services for a minimum of ten years under state law. … Continue reading

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