Facts on the new Oceanside Fire Contract

Chuck Lowery

Oceanside Firefighters Association proposes to give back a total of $1,183,064 during the 2-year contract, consisting of 4% pension and reduced holiday pay.

Message from Chuck Lowery:

(Oceanside City Councilman)

Hello ~

I've received many emails from people about the pension deal and have written this summary of what's been happening. I thought I'd send it to you because you're very concerned about the community. If you have any unanswered questions about what I'm saying below, please contact me. If you know others who care about the City and our pension issue, do them a favor and send them my explanation.

It's important to me that you know the truth about Oceanside's labor negotiations. Taxpayers need the facts so they can decide for themselves.

Background: City Council adopted a resolution for "Unrepresented Employees" on June 23, 2010. Employees received a 3% pay raise and agreed to pay 4% of PERS (pension). Approved by all council including Jerry Kern and Jack Feller.

The current proposal is a 2.5% pay raise and employees pay 4% of PERS costs. That's a better deal and the right direction to take.

Oceanside Firefighters Association (OFA) proposes to give back a total of $1,183,064 over length of the 2-year contract, consisting of 4% PERS and reduced holiday pay. Considering the pay raise, Oceanside taxpayers will save $351,157 A YEAR.

That's why I support this. Everything else you've read about this contract is a lie or half-truth.

The City pays health insurance for most employees and OFA requested that as well. OFA withdrew that $500,000 request during negotiation and will continue to pay out of their pockets.

SPECIAL NOTE: The costs for sick leave and step increases (IE: pay based on skill set and time served) are issues from the previous contract, approved by council about 2 years ago. Those costs should NOT be in this contract because they were contract issues illegally violated by our City Manager. Those items went into arbitration and were settled during negotiation because the CITY had violated the contract.

I asked in closed session that costs associated with those two items be removed. They were not. These violations could not have occurred PRIOR to a new contract being approved and are not part of this proposal yet they are included so the deal looks terrible. It is not.

The staffing item is a Fire Department BUDGET item, not a labor negotiation item. OFA added it so they could guarantee minimum safety service for Oceanside residents. This is not a financial or political issue: it is a safety issue to assure adequate resident coverage.

In closed session meetings, certain council members were more motivated to argue than work for a better contract. It was impossible for me to get consensus. This proposal is the best we could do based on time wasted brow-beating and posturing.

Conclusion: Council-members making noise about this being a "giveaway" are the same ones who voted repeatedly to put Oceanside taxpayers into pension debt that we can never escape. This did not happen in the past 10 weeks on my watch. They are trying to defend their mistakes by blaming me and the media has joined them.

Though not perfect, this brings more financial parity to our contracts. My intent is to do more in the next negotiation.

My concern: One faction had a council majority for years and did nothing but approve more debt. Why were they not screaming about their "bad deal" two years ago? They were in power. Now I am being accused of selling us out and I just arrived!

I ask for your support of this significant pension reform. Do not be distracted by those who are trying to blame their repeated mistakes on me.

Thank you.

Charles "Chuck" Lowery

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