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I would like to address the recent article in which the Monitor gave the county council’s views on the Fact Finders Report in regards to fire fighters raises.
I am a retired captain from LAFD, charter member of IAFF Local 3279, served on five out of the six negotiations between the county and Local 3279, held every elected position within the Local and am currently on the negotiations team.
Chairman (Michael) Wismer states that the council rejected the Fact Finders Report due to lack of analysis by the Fact Finder. As stated by the Fact Finder, the union had the more reasonable proposal. The Fact Finder is charged with choosing one proposal over the other, not blending the two proposals. This process took well over five months with testimony from both sides, supported by written examples, data and facts. I cannot understand how the council can say there was no analysis involved in this decision.
Chairman Wismer also states in the Monitor that he would like to see negotiations move towards a collaborative, “interest based” process. Local 3279 has always supported this style of bargaining. Two bargaining sessions ago the county and Local 3279 used this style of bargaining to great success. The county was the party that moved back to “position based” bargaining.
Assistant County Administrator Diana Stepan and local officer Capt. Joaquin Casaus, III are masters of the process. I would also like to bring the facts to light about what Fire Chief (Doug) Tucker referred to as a placeholder pay raise. The facts are the county council unilaterally imposed a pay raise while negotiations were still on going. Local 3279 alleged that this was a prohibited practice; the local labor board confirmed this charge and directed the county to withdraw the raise.
This was not the first time the county unilaterally imposed a raise, and not the first time the labor board directed the county to withdraw the raise. If this was just a placeholder raise why then did the county use this same percentage in their final best offer as presented to the Fact Finder? The facts are that Chief Tucker has always given much larger percentages to his command staff than to the fire fighters, as shown in the Fact Finders report.
The facts are that LAFD continues to lose highly trained members to other departments for financial reasons.
Local 3279 is a hard working, highly trained, and committed group of men and women. Everyday they work to make Los Alamos and Los Alamos National Laboratory a safer place to live, work and play. Every year the county council and county management make a point to vilify and undervalue their contributions to the citizens of Los Alamos.