As a former Public Safety Union President I am embarrassed by the City Firefighters Union and what they are doing to a fellow union and Fire Department. As reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican and elsewhere the City Fire Fighters Union is not only verbally opposing the County Fire Fighters quest to expand its Fire Department through a county wide gross receipts tax, they are actually going door to door to try and convince voters to turn it down.
Union solidarity has always meant something in America. In fact unions strength through out the years have come from the fact that fellow unions always supported each other. It is through the solidarity of many that victories have been won since the times of sweatshops and indecent working conditions. Today's City Fire Fighters Union seems to have forgotten the struggles of the past and have also lost sight of the fact that in the future someday, perhaps in March when the city's public safety property tax is voted on, they will need the support of fellow unions and the other politically involved people to support them. When the city police and fire unions went to the City Council to ask for raises only a few months ago they fully had the support of county unions and officials, how soon we forget. I in this blog, and on the New Mexican web site urged the city council to give the full raises being asked for instead of half the amount that ended up being passed.
The City Fire Fighters union is really way off on this one. On the one hand they complain that the county should shoulder more of the burden to cover county areas the city is now covering. On the other hand they oppose the tax which would allow the County to expand its Fire Department. The County Fire Department is badly in need of beginning the transition from almost all volunteer, to staffed fire stations with the ability to handle the ever increasing growth in the county. The City cannot have it both ways they cannot complain about the city fire serving county properties out of one side of their mouth and then out of the other side complain about the counties attempts to raise money to remedy the situation. Both of the fire departments are trying to downplay the animosity and lack of cooperation that is developing out of this situation. Those of us in the trenches know different, It will be very unfortunate if a life is lost or a firefighters is hurt because of this lack of leadership and those in public safety forgetting about why they took these jobs in the first place.