For any who were unable to attend the Contract Ratification Meetings, I’d like to make it clear that we never considered agreeing to any of the city’s proposals that would treat any group of our members differently. The city’s goal is to drive a wedge between young and old and weaken our Union; we must fight this at every turn and remain united. Assuming we prevail on overturning the pension cuts for vested members in Federal Court, I believe our top priority for our next contract should be making sure the non-vested have the same pension benefits as the rest of us. Of course our first step to make this possible will be next spring’s council elections. Once we’ve made changes there, we’ll also be able to address the ongoing funding needed for the VEBA to provide retiree health care for all hired after January 1, 2009. Remember, the $1.6 million in seed money is there because every member of this Union gave up a 2% pay increase in the last contract to keep the same level of benefits for all of our members.
Another divide they’re trying to create is between the appointed chiefs and the rank and file. These Chiefs didn’t bring their own pay proposal forward…that was done by the Assistant City Manager. Those guys have been our brothers for years and, although we don’t agree on everything, we have good Labor/Management relations. Believe me, we don’t want that to change; I’ve seen it in other cities and it’s not good. Don’t let the city drive a wedge there either.
As mentioned in the ratification meetings these negotiations were never about money; it was Union Busting clear and simple. It’s a phenomenon going on all across the country funded by Wall Street and carried out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and all of their affiliates. Obviously the “7th Street Gang” here in Fort Worth was all in, and Mayor Price is their lap dog.
Other than not allowing us to fund our own benefits, that they took away, their top priority was obtaining the biggest raises possible for the appointed positions - once again, indicative of the Wall Street culture.
All active firefighters, and all who retired after our last contract went into effect, will soon have an opportunity to re-vote the COLA selection. The Ad-Hoc would have worked beautifully if we’d been allowed to increase our contributions to the pension and fund it to a level that would trigger larger COLAs…but since that didn’t happen I plan to select the 2% Guaranteed Simple COLA. We are trying to get a Retirement Seminar set up very soon to help you understand the impact of all the changes.
In closing I would like to thank the Bargaining Team and all 440 and PAC Board members for their tireless work over the last 2years. Obviously, things didn’t turn out as we expected, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. I would also like to thank you, the members of Local 440, for your show of support for this Union!