Labor contract negotiations between the Sierra Fire Protection District and the Sierra Firefighter’s Association have reached an impasse. While the District remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached, should that not occur, the labor contract dispute will be resolved through an impasse process that includes fact-finding and final offer arbitration.
Core to the negotiations is the need to reduce personnel costs in order to address a $1,079,000 deficit included in the District’s adopted operating budget. The Sierra Fire Protection District (SFPD) has issued five layoff notices effective September 12th of this year in order to balance the budget for the current fiscal year.
The County Commission has noted in attempts to renegotiate other district fire contracts that the current contracts requiring the use of a four-person engine crew at all times is an unsustainable cost and, absent an agreement to reduce staffing, layoffs become necessary which will, unfortunately, reduce service coverage as revenues continue to decline.
The layoff notices were issued to three captains, one firefighter, and one mechanic, which will reduce coverage at the Bowers Fire Station by 50%. The Galena and Verdi stations would remain at 100% coverage. The decisions were based on an analysis of call volume as well as service coverage.
“Given the terms of the current contract with fire fighters in Local #3895,” commented Michael Greene, SFPD Chief, “we simply cannot meet the remaining deficit without reducing personnel costs.”
“We remain hopeful an agreement can be reached on the remaining few issues of a new contract that would avoid layoffs and provide cost savings to minimize impacts to our employees and continue the current level of protection to our citizens.”