Stockton’s Fire Unions Approve Bankruptcy Contract

STOCKTON, CA &#8211 The city’s two firefighter unions approved new contracts Monday, which has them contributing more to their pensions, saving Stockton money amid its financial restructuring.

Firefighter Bryan Carr, executive secretary of the Stockton Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 456, declined to reveal more of the contracts’ fine print before the City Council votes on them later this month.

The Stockton Police Officers’ Association now becomes the lone holdout among the city’s nine labor groups asked to agree to new deals as Stockton wends it way through its Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

“I’m happy that fire has a contract,” said Sgt. Kathryn Nance, the police union’s president. “We’re just at the point where we’re working out a contract, something to carry us through bankruptcy.”

A sticking point for police is retaining additional pay for senior officers. Without that, those with experience on Stockton’s streets will continue leaving, she said.

“We’re down so many officers that it’s just not safe,” Nance said. “The crime rate’s out of control.”

The city staffers and the police union don’t meet weekly, but they are in regular communication. Nance said she hoped that with the other labor groups securing new deals the city can focus on working with police.

For fire, the major change to the current agreement, adopted less than one year ago, raises the percentage each firefighter will contribute to his or her pension. They also raised it last year to the current 9 percent contribution, Carr said.

Monday’s vote passed by 70 percent of members agreeing, but it only required more than 50 percent. The contract has a one-year lifespan, opening again when the city is either out of bankruptcy or further along in its Chapter 9 proceedings, he said.

“We’re obviously going to come back to the table and figure it out then,” Carr said.

Councilwoman Susan Eggman praised firefighters for their leadership by approving the tough contract, which asks them to take a hit to their paychecks so Stockton can maintain its service levels. She viewed the vote count as a good thing.

“It could have gone the other way just as easily,” Eggman said. “To their credit, they want to do their part to help. I think its admirable.”

From The Stockton Record

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