Firefighters Union President Pat McOsker issued a pointed warning to the CIty Council on Tuesday over the planned “brownouts” in the city FIre Department — rolling closures of up to 28 stations every day and idling of dozens of ambulances.
He made the point that the actual cost to the city of $3.5 for the Michael Jackson funeral would avoid brownouts throughout the hot days of August at least if it was paid by AEG, the main beneficiary of the event and hundreds of millions of dollars in other gifts from the city.
What with the mayor and City Council being such good friends of AEG, that isn’t likely to happen. But McOsker didn’t completely waste his precious two minutes before the Council.
On Thursday, Fire Chief
Douglas Barry said no stations will be closed or
paramedic-ambulances taken out of service thanks to the mayor asking the Council to steal $13 million
from city reserve funds to reduce the impact of the $56 million cuts that were imposed.
But he admitted response times would be slower. That means that if you have a heart attack, there’s supposed to be ambulance teams on duty every so you’ll have a decent chance of survival.
But the same can’t necessarily be said if there’s a bad fire. Reduced staffing everywhere might sound better than closing some stations every day but it’s certainly a gamble unless you believe LAFD is overstaffed.
I suppose if something goes terribly wrong, you’ll get a letter of regret from your City Council member saying how sorry they are for your loss.
Officials from the city firefighters unions say the cuts are unthinkable and will certainly cost lives.
On Friday, July 18th, Mayor Villaraigosa instructed the Fire Chief to move forward on the Modified Coverage Plan (brownouts) beginning on August 6th. He did so after extensive discussions over the past several months with UFLAC leadership regarding the negative impacts that brownouts would have on public and firefighter safety. The Mayor has been repeatedly put on notice by Local 112 that brownouts will cause delayed LAFD responses, which will result in certain and unnecessary deaths in Los Angeles.
Much can happen between now and August 6th. The Mayor could pull back on brownouts prior to their scheduled start date. He has done so once already. But if he doesn’t, union members must understand exactly what these brownouts are: They are Mayor Villaraigosa’s cynical effort to leverage us in contract negotiations.
From the beginning, our Negotiating Team has been the only party at the table bargaining in good faith. Prior to negotiations we publicly offered to “share the sacrifice” with other city workers during these difficult times as long as the sacrifices asked of us are equal for all. In that vein, we made a series of reasonable offers at the table patterned after agreements recently reached between the City and its civilian unions. In response the City’s negotiators have made but one single offer to us. It contains pay and benefits reductions so severe and unequally targeted that they are insulting. It also is dramatically inferior to the deal struck with civilian workers only a few weeks ago.
If brownouts continue to move forward Local 112 will be ready. We are already speaking directly to the media and the City Council about the danger of the Mayor’s plan. We are also in the planning stages of a more organized and targeted public information campaign, and will ask union members to vote on an expenditure for that purpose at the August meeting. Our campaign will almost certainly include opportunities for union members to rally again, much as we did in May when 550 firefighters marched on City Hall.
For now, LAFD firefighters are asked to keep the faith, to keep working hard for the public we are sworn to protect, and to keep on message. And our message is as simple as it is honest: Don’t close fire companies and ambulances Mayor Villaraigosa: if you do people will die and it will be your fault.