Chico’s firefighters step up

Willingness to take pay cuts shows they put community first

The city of Chico took a big step toward fiscal health last week, thanks to its firefighters. Not only did they agree, via their union representatives, to give up raises for the next two years, they also decided to decrease starting salaries by 5 percent—a reduction by 2010 of some 13 percent of currently contracted salary amounts, according to union calculations.

The city has been negotiating with its eight employee groups to reduce cost-of-living raises to just 1 percent, but the firefighters’ proposed reductions go even further. Their willingness to sacrifice for the greater good of the community is certain to have profound impacts on the continuing negotiations with other groups, such as the police officers’ association.

Indeed, the firefighters asked for only one thing in return: that staffing levels per shift remain at 21, instead of dropping to 20 in July, as currently planned. This shows they’re more interested in saving colleagues’ jobs and keeping safe staffing levels than in getting bigger paychecks. We hope City Manager Dave Burkland is able to accommodate their request.

Our hats are off to Chico’s firefighters. They have shown they truly put community first. We hope this is the last time they have to take such a hit.