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    After A Terrible Fire Season CAL FIRE Firefighters Resist Cut to Wages

    SACRAMENTO, CA – CAL FIRE Local 2881 President Tim Edwards said, “Our decision to oppose the cut in wages to firefighters is not an indication of any personal disregard for the Governor and the work he has done during this difficult time.  We oppose the cut in wages because it creates chaos within the department and it is fundamentally unfair to firefighters who have been on the front line through the recent historic fire seasons, as well as being first responders to the pandemic, and the range of calls that are made to a full service fire department.”

    The Governor is asking that CAL FIRE firefighters – who were just given increased firefighter staffing to bring fire engines to an appropriate level and limit the practice of keeping firefighters on the line for weeks, and even months, at a time – give up a 2.5% raise they negotiated through bargaining and also take an additional ten percent cut in pay. This means a 12.5% pay cut for our firefighters.

    “CAL FIRE is already the lowest paid among the major fire departments,” said Edwards.

    Consider the facts:

    1. CAL FIRE firefighters are among the lowest paid firefighters in the state. We have become a training ground for higher paying local fire departments.
    2. A 10% pay cut for firefighters would put our entry level firefighters under minimum wage.
    3. A 10% pay cut would create compaction within the ranks. This means supervisors would be paid less than those who they supervise.
    4. CAL FIRE firefighters work a 72-hour work week compared to a 56-hour work week for local government fire departments. CAL FIRE already has a retention problem because a veteran CAL FIRE firefighter can start over with a local department and make more money at a lower rank for fewer hours of work.
    5. This 10% cut in pay will result in an inevitable exodus of qualified supervisors from the department. It makes better financial sense for them and their family if the firefighter retires.
    6. Our firefighters have been on the front line, responding to COVID-19 medical emergencies and more than 500,000 calls each year for assistance. The proposed 10% cut is frustrating and demoralizing.
    7. Almost fifty percent of our salaries are paid by the more than 100+ city and county contracts where we provide full service medical and fire protection. Whatever perceived savings this 10% cut will net will be negated by reductions in their payments to the state, resulting in limited savings.

    Joseph Q. Ten Eyck, a 35-year veteran with CAL FIRE and a Supervisor Representative with CAL FIRE L2881 said, “This 10% pay cut for firefighters means that it is better for me and my family if I retire now instead of waiting for another fire season.”

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