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|Last Updated: Monday, November 05, 2012|
San Jose Fire Department Lays Off Over 50 Firefighters
A total of 53 of the 720 firefighters with the San Jose Fire Department are being laid off. It all stems from a stalemate between the city and the firefighter's union over a labor contract, according to KTUV-TV.
The city of San Jose, California is trying to close a $118 million budget gap by asking 11 of its unions for concessions of 10 percent cuts in salary to avoid layoffs, according to NBC Bay Area. According to Mayor Chuck Reed, the firefighters union came up $6 million short so cuts had to be made.
According to San Jose Firefighter's Local 230, the fight is far from over, they are still trying to reach a financial agreement with the city to bring back the jobs.
This morning, 49 firefighters showed up to turn in their gear which included uniforms, badges and emergency equipment, according to KGO-TV.
"I never thought this would happen. I came here with the intention of serving 30 years for a career and continue to serve the citizens of San Jose. To be honest I'm completely dumbfounded right now," said laid off San Jose firefighter Michael Hidalgo.
The city is also shutting one fire station. Station 33 atop Communications Hill will close its doors today. Other stations will be forced to cut staff and work with less equipment.
"In the fire department, we have never faced the reduction of service which resulted in firefighter layoffs and captain and fire engineer demotions," said San Jose Interim Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed.
Local 230 Firefighters Union President Randy Sekany believes the city could have accepted their wage and benefits concessions, but instead acted with bad policy and residents will feel it.
"We know it's going to put the community at risk, their property at risk," said Sekany. "Then it's going to put the firefighters at greater risk."
According to Sekany, San Jose has the fewest firefighter per capita of cities with comparable populations.
One thing both sides can agree on, they want to re-hire these firefighters before they take jobs elsewhere. Currently there are 40 positions available for firefighters in the Bay Area, according to Sekany.
Author:Barbara Brooks - Fire Department Network News
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