City of Alameda adopts contract for firefighters

June 22, 2011 12:22:59 AM PDT
The city of Alameda adopted a union contract for its firefighters on Tuesday night, but not without the intense scrutiny of some angry residents. That's after a controversial incident where fire fighters watched a suicidal man drown off Crown Beach.

"I would ask that the firefighters' contract be reviewed thoroughly both from the point of view of performance..." said resident Knoll Folsom.

The firefighter's union contract may have been quietly approved if not for the suicidal drowning of Raymond Zack on Memorial Day.

"Several of them could have gone out. They didn't have to grab him, they didn't have to get that near, but they should have started talking to him," said Folsom.

The firefighters refused to save Zack because they weren't recertified for water rescues and now these citizens don't think they're worth the money they're being paid.

"A contract with three percent at 50 is way too fat, got to change that," said resident Lester Cabral.

"I think that the firefighters, after three years of negotiations, are willing to enter into a contract with significant concessions," said City Council Member Lena Tam.

The firefighters will not be getting a raise, they'll have to contribute two percent more to their pension and new hires will not get medical coverage when they retire.

"If you pass this fireman's budget tonight, next week you're going to come back and pass a budget. Now, from my viewpoint, this is backwards," said resident Rosemary McNalley.

Still the council adopted the union contract with a 4-1 vote. Residents are still seething because many questions about the drowning still haven't been answered, but new City Manager John Russo, says an internal affairs investigation will be completed by the end of June with possible disciplinary action. Also, the city is now buying a small rescue boat for $13,000 -- something the island city hasn't had since 2009.

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