CPF District 6 represents CAL FIRE, Local 2881.



  Photo: Cy Phenice

Photo: Cy Phenice

A Good Year

The bargaining process was typically protracted in 2017, but it never degenerated into name-calling or either side taking public umbrage with comments made by the other.

While we were disappointed with the initial offering, we stayed at the table and through a painstakingly careful review of the critical role CAL FIRE Local 2881 plays in the emergency response system in California we ended up with a contract four-times beyond the starting point.

The end result of course is more than just a move toward parity. It also increases the capacity of CAL FIRE to be more competitive in their wages, benefits and conditions. 

We appreciated very much the participation of the IAFF and the CPF in a rally that we led on the west steps of the Capitol to educate legislators on the duties and responsibilities of our brothers and sisters. The mid-morning event would not have been as successful without the incredible willingness of firefighters from other departments to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us in solidarity.

The great strength of the CPF is when all of us work together on behalf of the advancement of all professional firefighters. 

When I am asked what I chose to do as my lifetime profession, I am very proud to say that I am a firefighter. I am aware when I make this admission, the public perceives all of us who are in this line of work as the same - we truly are a family by the very nature of our livelihood.

 

THE CLOSING FIRES

The impacts of climate change are being felt in virtually every aspect of life in California. However, a case can be made that the consequences on the fires we are experiencing are especially significant.

Seven of the 10 most costly fires experienced by California have taken place in this past decade. A frightening addendum to that discussion is the fires have not been isolated to any single geographic location, but have occurred in every sector of the state.

A white paper that we wrote after bringing experts together for a conference ran the numbers that population, density, growth patterns, economic issues that engender building in place of risk, and the reality of climate change are giving us fires that would have been unimaginable a generation ago.

The conflagration in Napa was especially disastrous and prompted our Congressional delegation to ask for an additional 4.4 billion dollars in relief. The supplemental spending bill is designed to provide the funding necessary to mount not only an efficacious recovery program, but to put in place the structural ability to re-build. Additional relief will obviously be required in the wake of the Thomas Fire, now officially the most destructive in California history.

Certainly, we are learning through harsh examples, and the long days and weeks without respite for our men and women in the field, that a more proactive funding policy needs to be implemented at both the state and federal level. The grim reality exists that the wild lands, or perhaps more accurately the urban/wildlife interface are going to burn with real ferocity and the impact is going to be profound.

 

RESTORING JOBS

We were pleased in 2017 that seven of our firefighters who were promoted to new positions for which they tested, were qualified and deserved, were restored to their jobs after a bureaucratic decision regarding the integrity of the testing was posed.

The fundamental purpose of the union is making the case that the rights of the individual firefighter must be both respected and protected. We put our entire team, including our public outreach, political advocacy and legal experts, on the alert that individual jobs are sacrosanct and the security of our members is our number one priority. None of the work we do matters if we don’t take care of firefighters first and foremost.

 

CAL FIRE LOCAL 2881

We are approaching our 38th anniversary as a member of the CPF. The lesson we have learned in those almost four decades is that internal communication, a setting of priorities, a commitment to responding to the grassroots, a partnership that extends to the federal level with the IAFF and a precise and disciplined approach to protecting the public is the formula to success.