Protests disturb Vallejo news conference

March 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Mayor Osby Davis called the news conference Saturday afternoon to lay out the city's plan to avoid bankruptcy. That's when a small, vocal group of concerned citizens turned the event into a shouting match.

The press conference with the mayor, fire and police representatives quickly came to an end when protestors shouted down the speakers.

Union leaders and the mayor walked off after about five minutes of speaking.

The mayor and assistant city manager renegotiated the current contract with the Vallejo fire and police unions. Union representatives agreed to reduce their 8.5 percent pay raise to a 2 percent raise to keep the city out of bankruptcy.

Protestors say this is just a quick fix and the bloated salaries of public safety workers needs to be corrected even if it takes bankruptcy to do it.

"They should be paid well they should be taken care of. It should be fair though. And I think that the situation that we have now is not fair," said Marc Garman, a community activist.

"It's sad that people cannot disagree and respect each other's opinion. It's sad. It's sad but it indicates what we need to do in our community and I am committed to bringing this community together, irrespective of people who want to pull it apart," said Mayor Davis.

The new agreement also includes a payment plan for leave buyouts for retiring workers. They would be paid 50-percent now and the other half in December.

This agreement still needs to be approved by the City Council, all firefighters and police officers.

Union leaders believe the rank and file will approve it this week. The City Council votes on Monday. Both sides of the debate expect it to be approved with a five to two vote.