Firefighter deal

The next time you’re haggling over the price of a used car, don’t be tempted to call for assistance from that crack team of negotiators in upper management at the red stone Clark County Government Center. You’ll end up paying Blue Book and more.

After two months of tough talk with the county firefighters union, all the management team could manage to extract was a measly 1.5 percent wage cut and the reduction of one vacation day and one sick day.

Let’s see, in 2009, about 40 percent of county firefighters, who work 24-hour shifts, called in sick 10 times, the number of shifts worked in a month. A dozen missed more than 30 shifts, or three months.

Oh yes, the current 741 firefighters who are paid an average of $180,000 a year with perks and overtime did generously concede to cut the pay of future rookie firefighters by 5 percent. The total savings to the county is $4.2 million a year. Not much of a dent in a $100 million projected county budget shortfall.

The Review-Journal’s account of the one-year firefighter contract quoted a statement released by Ryan Beaman, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1908, saying, “We face the same financial challenges as any other city or county government. Both sides had a common interest. We were able to have meaningful and productive discussions to get this done.”

Translation: We put one over on these fools, didn’t we?

All of the unions are coming up for contract negotiations with the county, because all current contacts expire June 30. With such tough negotiations from management, the taxpayers shouldn’t hold out much hope that the county’s employees, who have averaged near-double-digit pay increases practically every year, will be required to give back much.

County commissioners and firefighters now must ratify the firefighter contract. We suggest the commissioners send their “negotiators” back to the table to show the firefighters a nice PowerPoint presentation featuring taxpayers standing in line at the unemployment office, a couple of boarded up businesses and several dozen homes with “foreclosed” signs in the yard.

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