1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I think there has always been concerns about the cost of public employees, even in the good times.
    I didn't say that there wasn't any concern prior to this current downturn in the economy. It just wasn't anywhere near what is happening now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyChiefGonzo View Post
    Brothers... three words...
    divide and conquer

    The MUTTS are doing that to us right now.. just read these forums....
    Exactly.

    No where in the argument has anyone pointed out that the same politicians (mostly lawyers) are provided so-called Cadillac health care benefits, pensions, and legislative required pay raises. And the pension benefits are typically available after far fewer years of service. While we fight amongst ourselves for the scraps, the career politicians laugh, sipping champagne and nibbling caviar toast points.

    How many politicians leave office poor or even middle class? How is it that the administrators of government seem to do far better off than the workers that provide the vital service? They aren't CEO's and they aren't running a business. There is no profit to be shared, they suck at the teet just like all the other "problem Union thugs." And it's not hard to imagine that they are nothing more than the hatchet men of rich corporate donors. They're marionette's being swung around the stage by far wealthier international corporations. It's no longer about Kennedy's "what you can do for the country," we've forgotten that concept. It's the end game -- our leaders, corporate and political are grabbing what they can before it all collapses.

    I'm sadden that I'm living to see all this . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blulakr View Post
    My power lies in my ability to sell my services to the highest bidder, not in union bargaining. Even if it means having to move my family to another location, I can and will do so. My employer knows this and compensates me as much as the market will bear to keep me happy and productive.

    Contrast that with public employees unions. Governments can raise taxes\fees or simply spend more than they take in to cover expenses such as labor costs. They can and have done this for a long time. They don't have to live within their means in the same way private business does. This simply is unsustainable and must not continue.
    Well written Blulakr. You articulate your point far better than I can usually do.

    I would like to do a long reply (in agreement with you) but time is running short just now.

    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Research takes work, that is why most anti-Union people watch Fox news, listen to Rush or Glenn Beck, or Bill O'Reilly, or locally in Madison Vicki McKenna to get told what to think.
    LOL.

    While I am not going to make a blanket statement like you did, I will say that *I* make up my own mind without the aid of those you mentioned. I am fiscally conservative. I find listening to Rush or Beck highly annoying. O'Reilly too. All conservatives just don't naturally flock to "conservative" broadcasters.

  4. #104
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    I am still trying to figure out how it is the unions fault if a unit of local or state government can't balance their budget. How many of you have actually negotiated a contract? I think some of you are in fantasyland here thinking that we barge in, make our demands, get everything we want and then some and pick the taxpayers pocket on the way out the door. I once went FOUR and a HALF years without a raise. Want to compare me to a private sector worker? How about setting up a private fire department...you know the ones that dont respond to your fire unless paid in advance. Seriously folks, blame the public sector unions all you want. Those greedy teachers. Those rotten cops and lazy firemen.
    I am not an auto mechanic, plumber or a CPA. I am a firefighter.... A firefighter who enjoys being able to sit across the table and bargain for wages, benefits and more importantly work rules. Our negotiations have very little to do about money. We fight over silly things like safe staffing and fair rules that apply to all. I have heard first hand the horror stories of places in this country where the administration is allowed to play favorites, discipline unfairly and unequally. To pay far below the industry standard. To say that all public sector unions run roughshod over management is just not true. We play by the rules. We PAY TAXES. We are not the problem. We have become the SCAPEGOAT. I will not sit idly by and listen to people who think they know what they are talking about spread outright lies about who's fault the current mess economically in this country is.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Friends against friends, neighbors against neighbors, co-workers against co-workers, and the worst of all family members against family members...The Right has been quite successful in using the tactic that failed the communists. They said they would never have to attack us militarily because we would destroy ourselves from within...They were right but they would never have guessed it would go down in this manner.

    The middle class, WE build this country, WE keep it running, WE keep it safe, and we do most of the living and dying to make it all happen. For what? Really? FOR WHAT? So the puppet masters can control, mess with, rearrange our lives at a whim. I am damn tired of being pulled right, then left, then hard right, then hard left, for nothing other than stupid ****ing political games that never seem to truly benefit the masses. the rich get richer and the middle class gets poorer. NOW part of the middle class says bring it on lets hurt part of our own...BRILLIANT.

    Honestly, I have long considered myself an Independent. I have picked and chosen candidates for their records and their campaign promises. I have voted for both Republicans (fortunately I saw through walkers lies and did not vote for him) and Democrats. The Republicans don't realize what they have started, they have started the biggest and best recruiting drive for the Democratic party ever. They have awakened the masses.
    We've been experiencing this in OC for a long time.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEYLIKESIT View Post
    I am still trying to figure out how it is the unions fault if a unit of local or state government can't balance their budget.

    You are correct, ultimately it is the politicians fault for the out of control spending. But they have proven that they will not control spending no matter who we vote into office. Someone has to do their job for them.

    How many of you have actually negotiated a contract?

    Every time I've taken a job and after that every time I've asked for a raise. Every time I've discussed increases in insurance premiums, workplace safety issues, overtime, job duties, vacations\holidays, you name it. 90% of the time employers just say "this is how it's going to be" and that's it. There really is no "negotiation". If I don't like it I have to either learn to live with it or leave. In the past I've had my medical insurance premium raised several times, my employers retirement contribution eliminated, overtime eliminated, workload increased etc etc all without any "negotiations"

    I think some of you are in fantasyland here thinking that we barge in, make our demands, get everything we want and then some and pick the taxpayers pocket on the way out the door. I once went FOUR and a HALF years without a raise.

    If my employer was as financially inept as yours I'd be unemployed. I assume you still have a pretty darn good job despite your employers incompetence. Count your blessings. Your employer is bankrupt yet you still have a job.

    Want to compare me to a private sector worker? How about setting up a private fire department...you know the ones that dont respond to your fire unless paid in advance. Seriously folks, blame the public sector unions all you want. Those greedy teachers. Those rotten cops and lazy firemen.

    You will not hear me attack the individual.

    I am not an auto mechanic, plumber or a CPA. I am a firefighter.... A firefighter who enjoys being able to sit across the table and bargain for wages, benefits and more importantly work rules. Our negotiations have very little to do about money.We fight over silly things like safe staffing and fair rules that apply to all.

    Unfortunately for you the result of those negotiations have in part led to your employers financial demise. I don't blame you for asking. I blame the unions for giving you the power to infuence weak politicians to overspend.




    I have heard first hand the horror stories of places in this country where the administration is allowed to play favorites, discipline unfairly and unequally. To pay far below the industry standard.

    Seriously, private employers do that daily everywhere and it goes unnoticed.

    To say that all public sector unions run roughshod over management is just not true. We play by the rules. We PAY TAXES. We are not the problem. We have become the SCAPEGOAT. I will not sit idly by and listen to people who think they know what they are talking about spread outright lies about who's fault the current mess economically in this country is.

    You appear to be taking this as a personal attack, and I can understand why, but you shouldn't. YOU are not the problem, the system is. .

    Thank you for your comments
    My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.

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    MikeyLikesIt......"we" as in Your local? or "we" as in all unions?

    Cuz I can't disagree with your statements about your local as I know only what you say about yours and have no reason to doubt that.

    I can disagree with "we" as in all unions. As I said in earlier posts...the locals in my area do not act/perform the same as yours. Up until recently, "concessions" were a guaranteed 4% raise instead of 5% for all 3 years of the contract.



    Are all unions a problem? Of course not. Are some? Yup. Are all politicians a problem? No. Are some (most?) Yup. There is no global 1 size fits all answer to this issue.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    I disagree with almost evertything you have to say Blu. My employer is neither weak, bankrupt nor inept. Without getting into all the details, my department was formerly a fire protection district that could not keep up with the growth of the city. The district trustees asked the city to take us over. Hence we became a city department serving the same public/taxpayer. We had a long first contract negotiation with the city. My lack of pay raise didnt have anything to do with poor fiscal management. I have to chuckle when I see you refer my mayor as "weak". That is one one word that will never be used to describe him.
    I am a little lost trying to figure out how getting a fair deal for doing a good job is considered "weak".

    I am scheduled 2708 hours per year...That's 52 hours a week. No overtime for that extra 12. It used to be 2912. We are going to drop to 2684 per year....51.5per week Do you work a 52 hour work week Blu? So when you go around throwing the old "unions give me the power over weak politicians" I just have to shake my head and move along. I guess rich corporations do not have any power or influence over weak politicians. I DO take this personally. I have seen the staunchest conservative firefighters shake their heads at the out right lies that have been perpetuated in certain segments of the media. I became a career firefighter because I wanted to. No firefighter should ever expect to become rich by being one.... but I also didnt take a vow of poverty. I make a good living doing a tough job.
    If you think unions are the reason for the mess that government got itself into, I am not going to change your mind. The waste, fraud, duplication/triplication of services, the entitlements to people who don't pay one red cent into the system obviously have nothing to do with it if I am reading you correctly.
    Bones, I can only speak from my experiences here in Illinois. Our state association does an outstanding job in the statehouse. Why? Not because we throw tons of money at politicians. We get results because our legislative reps have integrity. We get results because when we do want to move legislation forward it is because it is reasonable to both our members and the public. Same goes for when we object to legislation that is harmful to our members. No hysteria, just thoughtful discussions and at times tough negotiations. Alll done with money that WE the membership pay out of our pockets. Unlike government who believe it or not FIGHTS us....using the deep pockets of the taxpayer dime. I see what firefighters get paid in places where they cant negotiate. I see the screwed up work rules and the way their firefighters are treated. I will nevr back down when it comes to collective bargaining. It benefits everyone....including the public we serve.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    I think what you are seeing here is a fundemental difference of opinion. There are many who dislike the implementation of collective bargaining and its history. There are many who like collective bargaining and see no issues with how its implemented.

    You will not likely change people's mind over this fact. The abuses witnessed by people on both sides guarentee that. (all encompassing abuses by unions - not just public sector unions and employers - public and private)

    Personally - I like the right to work concept. Right or wrong - the person who is footing the bill makes the decisions. An employee does not have to work there. The employee is free to seek greener pastures if they are not happy with the pay, benefits or working conditions. The marketplace will determine the proper pay rate. As for work rules - I guess I'm to jaded from seeing too many of the abuses by other unions.

    With a strictly market based perspective - perhaps. in general, firefighters are to well compensated now. After all - look how many people line up for the jobs now - far more qualified applicants than positions exist. Not popular to many but a simple observation. The private sector has been doing this for decades.

    This is what many outside the fire service see. They know of people who used to work in the UAW who made $100,000/yr driving a forklift. My personal favorite was a Chrysler employee, on the job for 3 years, offered a $125,000.00 retirement buyout to lose his job - all required by work rules and contracts (and he took it - 6 months before Gov-motors came in).

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    Quote Originally Posted by The nots so new FNG View Post
    I think what you are seeing here is a fundemental difference of opinion. There are many who dislike the implementation of collective bargaining and its history. There are many who like collective bargaining and see no issues with how its implemented.

    You will not likely change people's mind over this fact. The abuses witnessed by people on both sides guarentee that. (all encompassing abuses by unions - not just public sector unions and employers - public and private)
    I would tend to agree.

    Personally - I like the right to work concept. Right or wrong - the person who is footing the bill makes the decisions. An employee does not have to work there. The employee is free to seek greener pastures if they are not happy with the pay, benefits or working conditions.
    Sure there's a certain logic to the "he who pays the bills is king" line of thought. However, there's also some logic in allowing those who's labor produces the money to pay those bills some voice in matters that directly impact them. Part of the "right to work" concept includes the ability for your employer to fire you for no reason. Don't see much to like about that from the employee side.

    Oh yes, the "greener pastures" argument. Yes, a person could simply just quit if they are not happy, but that should really be an option of last resort rather than a first step. It's kind of like selling your house and moving because you don't like the color of the walls.

    Wouldn't it be in both parties best interest to keep employee turnover low? Wouldn't it make sense to try and keep your employees "happy" since happy employees tend to be more productive? Why should a person have to change jobs because their boss fills overtime based on whomever he feels like calling first? Where's the problem with allowing the employees to help determine how they will be afforded overtime opportunities? Why should two people hired to do the same job for the same employer be paid differently?

    Collective bargaining is more about "tweaking" things and making them better than making crazy demands and major changes.

    The marketplace will determine the proper pay rate. As for work rules - I guess I'm to jaded from seeing too many of the abuses by other unions.
    So using that logic, we should strip employers of their right to have a say in how their businesses are run since there's many documented cases of abuse by employers too?

    With a strictly market based perspective - perhaps. in general, firefighters are to well compensated now. After all - look how many people line up for the jobs now - far more qualified applicants than positions exist. Not popular to many but a simple observation. The private sector has been doing this for decades.
    Ok, if we are now "too well compensated" based on the "market perspective", then we must not have been very well compensated prior to the economic meltdown. Also, you can't make the conclusion you are regarding firefighter compensation based on there being a large applicant pool for current job openings because there have been large applicant pools for firefighter jobs since long before this current mess started.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    ...Also, you can't make the conclusion you are regarding firefighter compensation based on there being a large applicant pool for current job openings because there have been large applicant pools for firefighter jobs since long before this current mess started.
    I have a member of my Department travelling around taking many tests trying to get hired on a FD. Pay has never been one of the things he mentions. He just wants the job.....


    MikeyLikesIt, nice post. As I said, in many ways I wish my area more like yours.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by The nots so new FNG View Post
    With a strictly market based perspective - perhaps. in general, firefighters are to well compensated now. After all - look how many people line up for the jobs now - far more qualified applicants than positions exist. Not popular to many but a simple observation. The private sector has been doing this for decades.
    Which market are you referring? What is the basis for this argument?
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    Quote Originally Posted by The nots so new FNG View Post
    Personally - I like the right to work concept. Right or wrong - the person who is footing the bill makes the decisions. An employee does not have to work there. The employee is free to seek greener pastures if they are not happy with the pay, benefits or working conditions. The marketplace will determine the proper pay rate. As for work rules - I guess I'm to jaded from seeing too many of the abuses by other unions.

    With a strictly market based perspective - perhaps. in general, firefighters are to well compensated now. After all - look how many people line up for the jobs now - far more qualified applicants than positions exist. Not popular to many but a simple observation. The private sector has been doing this for decades.
    One problem with the person footing the bill making the decisions is that it doesn't mean they understand what they are doing. When cost is the only thing looked at, the adage of getting what you pay for holds true.

    This isn't like some personal job here where the decisions affect one person. For instance it is your choice of who you want to fix you car, your electrical, plumbing, roof, or whatever. You can chance doing it yourself to save money, but not too many are willing to risk doing so at their neighbors. Instead that is why there are experts out there, who do understand the job and the requirements to do so safely and correctly.

    When it comes to public services, the people footing the bill really have no understanding of what it takes to do the job. They don't know how to prevent a flashover or backdraft, don't know how to do a search, or conduct a coordinated fire attack. They have no idea what all the equipment is used for on a rig. All they care about is that the service is there when they need it and the job gets done.

    Sure anyone can meet with an expert and get some type of estimate, but public safety is more of an insurance. Like any insurance agent, they look at your record, your demographic, your age, your health history, etc and they come up with an estimate on what it will cost. Now that is basically the same thing occurring with public safety, demographics, population, hazards, etc are all looked at and it is done by experts looking at standards to meet like response times, personnel and equipment needs and so on. Sure you can shop around, but no one is forcing you to live in your community either, now are they?




    Yeah, sure there are people lining up for such jobs, but one has to look beyond the line. For many places there are more requirements to get such a job, asking for more education and certs, thus diminishing the pool. (Our dept standards are high that there were only 20 applicants for the last test). Now just because people are lining up doesn't mean they are the best fit for the job, many will not pass the written test.....should we not care about that? Many will not be able to pass the physical agaility....should we forget about that too? Some will not do well on an interview, which happens even in the private sector....that doesn't mean anything though does it? Then there are those who will not meet the physical requirements or even pass a psych test....but that doesn't matter right? Then we have background checks....ahh hell, no need to mind there. Out of those who do pass, do you want the best possible or just look at the numbers?

    That is the thing, the public sector, like any other job, should want the best person that they can get regardless of the numbers applying. In order to get good employees one needs to be willing to retain them when they do get hired. It is costly for a high turnaround of people.


    Too well compensated? By who's opinion? Perhaps our military is too well compensated, I mean retirement after 20 years, cheap healthcare and dental, free housing while serving, free meals, education benefits, low interest loans and so forth. Or is that because we as the public view them as a critical service? Because I will guarnatee you there are people like you who think they are too well compensated.

    But hey, let's look at you. One can easily say you are too well compensated as well. Heck I have no idea what you do for a living, but I can argue the point. I can look at your pay, your possessions, your benefits, and look at the job you do and easily say the same thing. My bet would be you would argue against it.
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jccrabby3084 View Post
    Too well compensated? By who's opinion? Perhaps our military is too well compensated, I mean retirement after 20 years, cheap healthcare and dental, free housing while serving, free meals, education benefits, low interest loans and so forth. Or is that because we as the public view them as a critical service? Because I will guarnatee you there are people like you who think they are too well compensated.
    Great point. And given today's economy, I'm sure we could find people willing to do the job for less.
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    What is the origin of government authority?
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    Sure there's a certain logic to the "he who pays the bills is king" line of thought. However, there's also some logic in allowing those who's labor produces the money to pay those bills some voice in matters that directly impact them. Part of the "right to work" concept includes the ability for your employer to fire you for no reason. Don't see much to like about that from the employee side.
    There is a difference in having a say and actually having the last word. I firmly believe the employer should have the last word so long as they are following applicable laws. It comes from the philosophy that the employee is contracted to provide specific services to the employer so that the employer can make money. Since the employer is the one to dictate what services need to be rendered, it is them who should decide what they are willing to pay for them - provided all applicable laws are followed.

    Oh yes, the "greener pastures" argument. Yes, a person could simply just quit if they are not happy, but that should really be an option of last resort rather than a first step. It's kind of like selling your house and moving because you don't like the color of the walls.
    Actually - this is very common in the private sector. To move up - you change jobs. Good bad or otherwise, its the way it is. So, if at an impasse in discussions, what is the rationale for forcing an employer to meet your requests? To me, its a choice. If the employer really won't meet your requests, its up to the employee to decide if they want to accept the terms and stay or plan to leave and find another job.

    Wouldn't it be in both parties best interest to keep employee turnover low? Wouldn't it make sense to try and keep your employees "happy" since happy employees tend to be more productive? Why should a person have to change jobs because their boss fills overtime based on whomever he feels like calling first? Where's the problem with allowing the employees to help determine how they will be afforded overtime opportunities? Why should two people hired to do the same job for the same employer be paid differently?
    Yep. It makes sense to keep your employees happy. It makes more sense to keep the owners happy. In the case of government - it makes sense to keep the taxpayers happy. They are the parties footing the bill.

    Collective bargaining is more about "tweaking" things and making them better than making crazy demands and major changes.

    So using that logic, we should strip employers of their right to have a say in how their businesses are run since there's many documented cases of abuse by employers too?
    I think the better way to put it is that employees really do NOT have a say in how the buisness they work for is run. (unless they are an owner). If they are not the owner, why should they have a say? In the case of public service (government), they have the same say as everyone else who pays taxes.

    I make no denial that there are some really shady buisness owners out there. My counter arguement to that is that its a free country. So long as that owner did not break the law, the only recourse is to find a new job. If they broke the law, then thats another story entirely.
    Ok, if we are now "too well compensated" based on the "market perspective", then we must not have been very well compensated prior to the economic meltdown. Also, you can't make the conclusion you are regarding firefighter compensation based on there being a large applicant pool for current job openings because there have been large applicant pools for firefighter jobs since long before this current mess started.
    The only point was in the private sector, if you have a lot of qualified applicants for a job, the incentive to create retention incentives is lost. You can make arguements about institional knowledge and expierence or the costs of training and turnover and they do have merit. Fundementally though, if you have a lot of people who want a job, its a lot easier to find people who will work for less compensation and provide the level of service you want to pay for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jccrabby3084 View Post
    One problem with the person footing the bill making the decisions is that it doesn't mean they understand what they are doing. When cost is the only thing looked at, the adage of getting what you pay for holds true.
    You forget who gets to make the choice of what to pay for and what to get. Its the taxpayers, or the people footing the bill who get to make that choice.

    This isn't like some personal job here where the decisions affect one person. For instance it is your choice of who you want to fix you car, your electrical, plumbing, roof, or whatever. You can chance doing it yourself to save money, but not too many are willing to risk doing so at their neighbors. Instead that is why there are experts out there, who do understand the job and the requirements to do so safely and correctly.

    When it comes to public services, the people footing the bill really have no understanding of what it takes to do the job. They don't know how to prevent a flashover or backdraft, don't know how to do a search, or conduct a coordinated fire attack. They have no idea what all the equipment is used for on a rig. All they care about is that the service is there when they need it and the job gets done.
    That is why we elect representation. It is the job of the elected officials to vet the needs vs the wants and ensure the appropriate level of service is provided. Do they do this - sometimes.

    Sure anyone can meet with an expert and get some type of estimate, but public safety is more of an insurance. Like any insurance agent, they look at your record, your demographic, your age, your health history, etc and they come up with an estimate on what it will cost. Now that is basically the same thing occurring with public safety, demographics, population, hazards, etc are all looked at and it is done by experts looking at standards to meet like response times, personnel and equipment needs and so on. Sure you can shop around, but no one is forcing you to live in your community either, now are they?
    Again, you mistake your opinion for what the opinion is of those who are tasked with making this decision. Like it or not - its the elected officials who are tasked with this. They answer to the voting public - not to the fire service.

    Take the subscription deptartment in Tennessee. The public has voted to keep the system in place. Many here think its awful. They are OK with it and don't want to pay more taxes for something else. Like it or not - they are the ones footing the bill and they get to decide what they want to pay for - not you.


    Yeah, sure there are people lining up for such jobs, but one has to look beyond the line. For many places there are more requirements to get such a job, asking for more education and certs, thus diminishing the pool. (Our dept standards are high that there were only 20 applicants for the last test). Now just because people are lining up doesn't mean they are the best fit for the job, many will not pass the written test.....should we not care about that? Many will not be able to pass the physical agaility....should we forget about that too? Some will not do well on an interview, which happens even in the private sector....that doesn't mean anything though does it? Then there are those who will not meet the physical requirements or even pass a psych test....but that doesn't matter right? Then we have background checks....ahh hell, no need to mind there. Out of those who do pass, do you want the best possible or just look at the numbers?

    That is the thing, the public sector, like any other job, should want the best person that they can get regardless of the numbers applying. In order to get good employees one needs to be willing to retain them when they do get hired. It is costly for a high turnaround of people.
    Yep - the balancing act of pay rate, turnover and compensation. You could have the greatest employees in the world if you paid them 1 million dollars a year. But the missing element is the fiscal responsibility part. Money is a finite commodity and the goal is to pay as little as possible to get the level of service you want. You may argue of what that level of service is but ultimately its the taxpayer (or employer) who decides that, not the employee.

    Too well compensated? By who's opinion? Perhaps our military is too well compensated, I mean retirement after 20 years, cheap healthcare and dental, free housing while serving, free meals, education benefits, low interest loans and so forth. Or is that because we as the public view them as a critical service? Because I will guarnatee you there are people like you who think they are too well compensated.

    But hey, let's look at you. One can easily say you are too well compensated as well. Heck I have no idea what you do for a living, but I can argue the point. I can look at your pay, your possessions, your benefits, and look at the job you do and easily say the same thing. My bet would be you would argue against it.
    Yep - you can make the arguement one way or another. The reality is its up to my employer to offer me a compesation package I am willing to accept to keep me. There are people lining up for my job and as such - the total pay/compensation is less than the average for the private sector.

    I work for a public university so my salary is public knowledge - $66k+change. For my job, you have to have a Degree in Engineering and 10 years expierence in the engineering field. My total compensation package (salary, retirement + health benefits is more in the $85k-$90k range). If I went to the private sector - I'd be in the $120k range for salary/benefits. I take the lesser pay because I like what I do, the hours and I have less stress in my life.

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    There is flawed logic involved when you say there are an abundance of 'qualified' candidates for firefighter positions. Many departments have set standards that they feel are appropriate only to hear from the DOJ that their testing system is discriminatory. There is a mistaken belief that anyone can do the job and all that you need is a high school education and a clean record. The reality is far different.

    I find it interesting that there is such a strong push to make the Fire Department more inclusive and more representative of the community it serves, at the same time that many are using 'free market' philosophy to whittle down salaries and benefits of employees, under the guise of supply and demand. If employment standards actually reflected the necessary physical, mental and emotional skills necessary to be success in the profession, there would not be a glut of candidates. But as long as it's 'come one, come all,' then I guess we should be paid far less. Yeah right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blulakr View Post
    Originally Posted by MIKEYLIKESIT View Post
    I am still trying to figure out how it is the unions fault if a unit of local or state government can't balance their budget.

    You are correct, ultimately it is the politicians fault for the out of control spending. But they have proven that they will not control spending no matter who we vote into office. Someone has to do their job for them.
    And why does this responsibility fall to the Unions?

    How many of you have actually negotiated a contract?

    Every time I've taken a job and after that every time I've asked for a raise. Every time I've discussed increases in insurance premiums, workplace safety issues, overtime, job duties, vacations\holidays, you name it. 90% of the time employers just say "this is how it's going to be" and that's it. There really is no "negotiation". If I don't like it I have to either learn to live with it or leave. In the past I've had my medical insurance premium raised several times, my employers retirement contribution eliminated, overtime eliminated, workload increased etc etc all without any "negotiations"
    So then the answer to the question would be a NO?



    Unfortunately for you the result of those negotiations have in part led to your employers financial demise. I don't blame you for asking. I blame the unions for giving you the power to infuence weak politicians to overspend.
    You do realize, at least with the IAFF, the "union" is not specifically a third party? At the local level, the employees ARE the Union.

    I have heard first hand the horror stories of places in this country where the administration is allowed to play favorites, discipline unfairly and unequally. To pay far below the industry standard.

    Seriously, private employers do that daily everywhere and it goes unnoticed.
    It doesn't go unnoticed. It may not get addressed or resolved, but it definitely doesn't go unnoticed.

    To say that all public sector unions run roughshod over management is just not true. We play by the rules. We PAY TAXES. We are not the problem. We have become the SCAPEGOAT. I will not sit idly by and listen to people who think they know what they are talking about spread outright lies about who's fault the current mess economically in this country is.


    You appear to be taking this as a personal attack, and I can understand why, but you shouldn't. YOU are not the problem, the system is. .

    Thank you for your comments
    Then maybe there should be a lot more attention focused on "the system" than on the workers themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MBarnes View Post
    There is flawed logic involved when you say there are an abundance of 'qualified' candidates for firefighter positions. Many departments have set standards that they feel are appropriate only to hear from the DOJ that their testing system is discriminatory. There is a mistaken belief that anyone can do the job and all that you need is a high school education and a clean record. The reality is far different.
    I agree that 90% of the candidates that apply likely aren't top candidates but when you have 100 or more per position applying, the numbers are there.

    I also strongly disagree with the 'social engineering' many want to push. I am a strong believer in letting the creme rise to the top and be rewarded. I understand the need for cultural awareness and benefits of a diverse workforce when working with the population as a whole but to blatantly discriminate against one group for preferential treatment of another is flat out wrong.

    As for testing - my answer is simple. Provide a refernce list, key required knowledge and sample exams available to everyone. Make it up to the candidate to ensure they succeed with the test.

    I find it interesting that there is such a strong push to make the Fire Department more inclusive and more representative of the community it serves, at the same time that many are using 'free market' philosophy to whittle down salaries and benefits of employees, under the guise of supply and demand. If employment standards actually reflected the necessary physical, mental and emotional skills necessary to be success in the profession, there would not be a glut of candidates. But as long as it's 'come one, come all,' then I guess we should be paid far less. Yeah right.
    I think you are confusing two groups. I support market based compensation practices but strongly disagree with social engineering expirements in hiring practices. I am sure the ones who push for diversity above else could care less about compensation issues.

    For the record - I also oppose the preferential vendor use for minority owned and women owned buisnesses that my workplace is now pushing. We have a whole freaking office dedicated to this. What happened to being a good steward of resources? To advocate (and force) paying more for the same product simply because the buisness is owned by a minority or women! I just don't get it.
    Last edited by The nots so new FNG; 03-16-2011 at 09:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The nots so new FNG View Post
    You forget who gets to make the choice of what to pay for and what to get. Its the taxpayers, or the people footing the bill who get to make that choice.
    Along with that is to also meet the service needs of the community. There are standards for a reason, training standards, equipment standards, safety standards, time standards and so forth, which all incur costs in order to meet. If it were up to most taxpayers, then we would still have 3/4 coats and hip boots, training would consist of showing the hose and some operations, time only matters if it is for you. The thing is though, it is not this way now is it? People choose to live in communities and pay taxes for services, in some places they don't pay much and don't get much, it is their choice. In others they do get good service for their money. However, the issue we see is people paying for a level of service which keeps getting cut by the mindset of people like you, yet ironically their tax dollars don't go down.


    That is why we elect representation. It is the job of the elected officials to vet the needs vs the wants and ensure the appropriate level of service is provided. Do they do this - sometimes. Again, you mistake your opinion for what the opinion is of those who are tasked with making this decision. Like it or not - its the elected officials who are tasked with this. They answer to the voting public - not to the fire service.
    Many elected officials have the same knowledge of the fire service as the avg taxpayer, very little. It is also the responsibility of the elected officials to listen to the experts who provide such services to justify the reasons for costs. This is called a budget and is why there are such people to be able to say how such cuts affect service, or to justify as to why there needs to be an increase to maintain the service.

    This is also why such elected officials go through a process to find someone to be the job expert to represent the service. This is no different than a board of directors in a major corporation, sure they have stockholders who want their dividends (service) and want the most they can for what they pay (taxes) but don't entirely understand how it gets there (public employees). The board of directors when tasked with such questions typically do not understand each level of operation, nor the job of each worker, so they have dept heads that DO have that knowledge and can explain things. Yet, you seem to believe the shareholder should just be able to go in and say how things should operate, despite have no idea of how things operate in the first place. We see it all the time with the general public, now don't we?

    And BTW....Why do you keep forgetting the simple aspect that the fire service is also the voting public???


    Take the subscription deptartment in Tennessee. The public has voted to keep the system in place. Many here think its awful. They are OK with it and don't want to pay more taxes for something else. Like it or not - they are the ones footing the bill and they get to decide what they want to pay for - not you.
    And the voting public is also taking a chance also. The folks who are outvoted will have their subscriptions, but it doesn't mean their voices have to be silenced either. The people that don't pay start to find that issues like did happen may occur more frequently in the future. After all, the fire service has absolutely NO obligation to provide services to someone who doesn't pay. They have an obligation to try and save a savable life, but none for property. Besides, can you get auto insurance AFTER the accident? Can you get flood insurance while the flood is occurring? Didn't think so.

    That is the issue, sure the people don't want to pay taxes, but gee wasn't it ironic how the owner said he thought they would just come anyway? Yep, as more incidents like that do occur or resources are taken from the taxpayers where the resources come from, don't think things stay the same. Besides since you seem to be against any taxes going to public service providers, perhaps you should look into moving to TN and live in the subscription area? Or perhaps talk your community into establishing a subscription service, see how that flies.


    Yep - the balancing act of pay rate, turnover and compensation. You could have the greatest employees in the world if you paid them 1 million dollars a year. But the missing element is the fiscal responsibility part. Money is a finite commodity and the goal is to pay as little as possible to get the level of service you want. You may argue of what that level of service is but ultimately its the taxpayer (or employer) who decides that, not the employee - you can make the arguement one way or another. The reality is its up to my employer to offer me a compesation package I am willing to accept to keep me. There are people lining up for my job and as such - the total pay/compensation is less than the average for the private sector. .
    And you go right on back to my original comments. Yes, there is more to any job besides just pay, that is why there are many non-fiscal things that can be talked about besides pay and benefits. However, if you want quality employees, you do have to offer incentives to stay. And like your comparison, many firefighters and public servants total pay/compensation is less than the private sector.


    I work for a public university so my salary is public knowledge - $66k+change. For my job, you have to have a Degree in Engineering and 10 years expierence in the engineering field. My total compensation package (salary, retirement + health benefits is more in the $85k-$90k range). If I went to the private sector - I'd be in the $120k range for salary/benefits. I take the lesser pay because I like what I do, the hours and I have less stress in my life.
    So, like I thought, you are overcompensated for the job you do then right?
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The nots so new FNG View Post
    There is a difference in having a say and actually having the last word. I firmly believe the employer should have the last word so long as they are following applicable laws. It comes from the philosophy that the employee is contracted to provide specific services to the employer so that the employer can make money. Since the employer is the one to dictate what services need to be rendered, it is them who should decide what they are willing to pay for them - provided all applicable laws are followed.
    So, basically you believe that individual job applicants have the right to negotiate their terms of employment with the prospective employer to determine if they will accept employment, but current employees shouldn't be able to negotiate at all with the employer and just leave if they don't like something?



    Actually - this is very common in the private sector. To move up - you change jobs. Good bad or otherwise, its the way it is. So, if at an impasse in discussions, ...............To me, its a choice. If the employer really won't meet your requests, its up to the employee to decide if they want to accept the terms and stay or plan to leave and find another job.
    Well, the private sector and the public sector are not the same animal. In the private sector, changing jobs and "moving up" is often enough not that hard to do. In the public sector, it's next to impossible for police officers and firefighters specifically, to easily change jobs in the first place and if you do, you will almost always be starting over with the new employer unless hired in at the top chief levels.

    what is the rationale for forcing an employer to meet your requests?
    Kind of hard to answer in the abstract because the rationale will vary depending on the issue in dispute. In some cases it may be a safety issue, like minimum apparatus staffing to ensure the ability to do the job within a reasonably safe environment. Many issues don't get to the point of "forcing" the employer to do something (i.e. arbitration). Most are amicably settled long before that point.

    Yep. It makes sense to keep your employees happy. It makes more sense to keep the owners happy. In the case of government - it makes sense to keep the taxpayers happy. They are the parties footing the bill.
    But it would make the most sense if every body was happy. As for the taxpayers, as long as they are paying taxes, they will never be happy.


    I think the better way to put it is that employees really do NOT have a say in how the buisness they work for is run. (unless they are an owner). If they are not the owner, why should they have a say? In the case of public service (government), they have the same say as everyone else who pays taxes.
    The employees should have a say because in terms of "running the business", oftentimes they have much better insight into what the "problem areas" are and how to improve them.

    I make no denial that there are some really shady buisness owners out there. My counter arguement to that is that its a free country. So long as that owner did not break the law, the only recourse is to find a new job. If they broke the law, then thats another story entirely.
    So, why does it have to be a "take it or leave it" relationship? Why can't the employer and employee work together to establish and maintain a good and safe working conditions?


    The only point was in the private sector, if you have a lot of qualified applicants for a job, the incentive to create retention incentives is lost. You can make arguements about institional knowledge and expierence or the costs of training and turnover and they do have merit. Fundementally though, if you have a lot of people who want a job, its a lot easier to find people who will work for less compensation and provide the level of service you want to pay for.
    Sure, but since you made the reference to firefighter pay relative to the "market perspective", care to answer the question asked? If the "market" is saying we are now "overpaid", then the logical conclusion would be that we were "underpaid" previously, correct?+

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    Quote Originally Posted by The nots so new FNG View Post
    You forget who gets to make the choice of what to pay for and what to get. Its the taxpayers, or the people footing the bill who get to make that choice.
    Actually, the taxpayers rarely get a choice regarding "what to pay for and what to get" in all aspects of government. Aside from the occasional referendum on election day, when was the last time you were given a choice regarding what your tax dollar will pay for or what a government agency will get with your tax dollar?

    I think the closest I've come locally in the last ten years to making a choice regarding what to get with "taxpayer money" was revising my FD's TOG specs and then making the recommendation on what brand to buy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEYLIKESIT View Post
    I disagree with almost evertything you have to say Blu. My employer is neither weak, bankrupt nor inept.

    My apologies. My statement was too broad. Some city\county and even some state governments are run responsibly. Most it seems are not though.

    Without getting into all the details, my department was formerly a fire protection district that could not keep up with the growth of the city. The district trustees asked the city to take us over. Hence we became a city department serving the same public/taxpayer. We had a long first contract negotiation with the city. My lack of pay raise didnt have anything to do with poor fiscal management. I have to chuckle when I see you refer my mayor as "weak". That is one one word that will never be used to describe him.
    I am a little lost trying to figure out how getting a fair deal for doing a good job is considered "weak".

    I am scheduled 2708 hours per year...That's 52 hours a week. No overtime for that extra 12. It used to be 2912. We are going to drop to 2684 per year....51.5per week Do you work a 52 hour work week Blu?

    My current employer discourages overtime. My previous employer paid me via salary and 50+ hr workweeks were the norm.

    So when you go around throwing the old "unions give me the power over weak politicians" I just have to shake my head and move along. I guess rich corporations do not have any power or influence over weak politicians. I DO take this personally. I have seen the staunchest conservative firefighters shake their heads at the out right lies that have been perpetuated in certain segments of the media. I became a career firefighter because I wanted to. No firefighter should ever expect to become rich by being one.... but I also didnt take a vow of poverty. I make a good living doing a tough job.
    If you think unions are the reason for the mess that government got itself into, I am not going to change your mind. The waste, fraud, duplication/triplication of services, the entitlements to people who don't pay one red cent into the system obviously have nothing to do with it if I am reading you correctly.

    You are not reading me correctly and I apologize for any confusion. I am very aware that the entitlements and duplicated services are by far the biggest problem. Nevertheless all areas need to be reviewed and scrutinized

    Bones, I can only speak from my experiences here in Illinois. Our state association does an outstanding job in the statehouse. Why? Not because we throw tons of money at politicians. We get results because our legislative reps have integrity. We get results because when we do want to move legislation forward it is because it is reasonable to both our members and the public. Same goes for when we object to legislation that is harmful to our members. No hysteria, just thoughtful discussions and at times tough negotiations. Alll done with money that WE the membership pay out of our pockets. Unlike government who believe it or not FIGHTS us....using the deep pockets of the taxpayer dime. I see what firefighters get paid in places where they cant negotiate. I see the screwed up work rules and the way their firefighters are treated. I will nevr back down when it comes to collective bargaining. It benefits everyone....including the public we serve.
    Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. In the great (barf) state of California there is the 3% at 50 rule. Meaning some public employees, including cal fire employees, can retire at 50 with very nice pensions depending on how long you worked and what you earned. 25 years gets you 75% of your highest wage during employment. Some choose to, and are allowed to, retire at 50 and take their pension, then go right back to work at their same job while continuing to recieve their pension.
    My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    So, basically you believe that individual job applicants have the right to negotiate their terms of employment with the prospective employer to determine if they will accept employment, but current employees shouldn't be able to negotiate at all with the employer and just leave if they don't like something?
    To a point yes. If you don't like the initial offer - you turn it down. If terms of employment are changing - you can try to work with the employer but in the end, you may end up deciding if you want to work for those terms - just like in the initial offer.

    Well, the private sector and the public sector are not the same animal. In the private sector, changing jobs and "moving up" is often enough not that hard to do. In the public sector, it's next to impossible for police officers and firefighters specifically, to easily change jobs in the first place and if you do, you will almost always be starting over with the new employer unless hired in at the top chief levels.
    To be blunt - I don't really care. Its not always easy to change jobs in the private sector either. Its a characteristic of the career path you choose. Sorry.

    Kind of hard to answer in the abstract because the rationale will vary depending on the issue in dispute. In some cases it may be a safety issue, like minimum apparatus staffing to ensure the ability to do the job within a reasonably safe environment. Many issues don't get to the point of "forcing" the employer to do something (i.e. arbitration). Most are amicably settled long before that point.
    Safety issues should be addressed by OSHA or its equivalent in the state as well as industry standards. The question comes down to legal requirements. I do agree - most of the time, issues don't get forced because its really in the best interest of both parties to go one way or another.

    But it would make the most sense if every body was happy. As for the taxpayers, as long as they are paying taxes, they will never be happy.
    You would be suprised. Many people have no problems paying for things they see as valuable. On my taxes, I see a line item for Fire and I pay it without concern. I actually bet if you took the fire service and police budgets as line items on the tax bill - people would not go after them. The incremental per capita cost is usually fairly small for an individual. Its the whole bill that gets people mad.

    The employees should have a say because in terms of "running the business", oftentimes they have much better insight into what the "problem areas" are and how to improve them.

    So, why does it have to be a "take it or leave it" relationship? Why can't the employer and employee work together to establish and maintain a good and safe working conditions?
    This isn't about a 'take it or leave it' arrangement, this is about a we can talk and work together but ultimately, its my call arrangement. This really only matters when you get to a dispute.

    Sure, but since you made the reference to firefighter pay relative to the "market perspective", care to answer the question asked? If the "market" is saying we are now "overpaid", then the logical conclusion would be that we were "underpaid" previously, correct?+
    Simply put - yes. If you are having difficulty filling/retaining employees, then you likely are not properly compensating them or have some other major issue in working conditions. To get and retain employees, you have to address those issues - either by raising compensation and/or changing working conditions.

    In the private sector - I am all for profit sharing in contracts with employees. It gives them a vested interest in the company doing well. It basically says 'when we do well, we all do well'. It also can say 'when we do poorly, we all do poorly'.

    I would love to see that idea translated somehow into the public sector as well. Its hard because you do make a profit but perhaps someone could come up with something.

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