Saturday, December 22, 2018

Marinwood firefighters get 3-year contract after period of tension

Marinwood firefighters get 3-year contract after period of tension

Firefighters extinguish a vegetation fire last year near Johnstone Drive in Marinwood. The neighborhood has its own firefighters, but the top administrators are from the San Rafael Fire Department. (Robert Tong/Marin Independent Journal)

By GARY KLIEN | | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: December 22, 2018 at 5:15 pm | UPDATED: December 22, 2018 at 5:18 pm

After several years without a contract, Marinwood’s firefighters have secured a three-year package of pay hikes.

The contract, approved Thursday night by the Marinwood Community Services District board, also includes a $2,000 one-time payment and other incentives. The vote was 4-0, with Jeff Naylor absent.

The increases range from 5.5 percent to 8.5 percent over the three years, depending on rank. By the end of the contract, the maximum pay scale will range from $6,913 a month for veteran firefighters to $8,121 for captains.

Union negotiator John Bagala, a former Marinwood fire captain, said the contract still leaves Marinwood’s pay as the lowest in the county, but the multiyear deal gives the firefighters and the district a respite from being at “loggerheads.”

“Much more needs to be done, but this contract is a good first step,” said Bagala, vice president of Marin Professional Firefighters, Local 1775 of the International Association of Firefighters. “The reason we strive for parity is in order to attract the most qualified people so we can provide the highest quality service to the public.”

The district also agreed to start an “advanced life support” program for its medics, bringing them up to the care level provided by other local departments. Bagala said the majority of the department’s 1,400 to 1,500 annual calls are medical.

The contract caps a prolonged period of tension over not just wages but also basic working conditions. The firehouse kitchen, largely demolished nearly two years ago during a mold abatement project, was only recently refurbished after repeated snags over funding and contractors.

“The district is grateful to have completed this process and looks forward to focusing on the future, while enhancing the high level of service our community has come to expect,” Leah Green, president of the district board, said of the contract resolution.

In this fiscal year, the contract calls for a 1.5 percent raise for firefighters and firefighter-paramedics; 2 percent for engineers; and 2.5 percent for captains. In the 2019-20 and 2020-21 fiscal years, those numbers rise to 2 percent, 2.5 percent and 3 percent.

Under the agreement, the department will have nine budgeted positions instead of 10. The nine positions cover three shifts that include a captain, an engineer and firefighter. Overtime shifts fill in the gaps. See the full story  HERE

Editor's Note:  The Marinwood CSD rushed to approve this at the December 20, 2018 WITH NO DISCUSSION of the financial costs and long term financial affects to the district budget.   It is yet another example of the feckless leadership on the Marinwood CSD board and the CSD Manager who lacks training in labor negotiation.  Over 66% of all Marinwood FD emergency response is in the City of San Rafael.   Marinwood taxpayers subsidize this because of the inept ability of Marinwood CSD to negotiate a fair agreement.  This is why we need to consider alternatives to the current "shared services" agreement such as alignment with another agency or hiring fire services privately.

Marinwood CSD is certain to go bankrupt unless it adopts a responsible fiscal management plan. Simply doing "business as usual" will drive us irreversibly into bankruptcy without the ability to meet pension obligations. 

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