PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE - REX PRITCHARD
Sisters & Brothers...
I am hoping that our active and retired members of Local 372 have been able to enjoy their summer with family and friends. It is always great to hear around the kitchen table trips people have made and the places they have visited on their vacations. Heather and I don’t do a lot of traveling, except to the river, so someday when we do travel we look forward to visiting some of the places I hear you all talk highly about.
Like always, a lot is going on in the LBFD and your board of directors are working diligently to address all the issues related to your wages, hours, and working conditions. So, let’s start with contract negotiations.
Your negotiations team of Paul Rodriquez, Kevin Scott, Al Suarez, Nick Krause, Attorney Mike McGill and myself continue to meet with the city to secure a successor agreement. Our current contract expires on September 30, 2019, and we are doing everything we can to secure a fair contract before the expiration of our current contract. We have several meetings scheduled for August. Once we come to a tentative agreement with the city, we will schedule membership meetings to discuss the proposed contract and answer any questions people have. Then, the membership will have an opportunity to vote yes or no on the contract. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that we remain competitive in our market place, so we can recruit and retain firefighters.
All you have to do is turn on the television, look on any news channel, and you will realize quickly that election season is in full swing. Local 372 is very involved in local and state election races, however, we are NOT involved in federal elections. I have had many conversations regarding the presidential elections with our active/retired members. Local 372 does NOT have a federal political action committee (PAC) and 372 doesn’t make endorsements for president or give money to federal elections. However, the IAFF almost solely deals with federal elections. Congress is the equivalent of our city council and the president is the equivalent of our mayor, with regards to the IAFF. So, they have to play in the political realm to ensure our issues related to wages, hours, and working conditions are secured for the betterment of firefighters from across the nation. The IAFF doesn’t spend your dues money on PAC expenditures. IAFF PAC expenditures are paid for by the FIREPAC which is funded solely through donations from firefighters. The IAFF stands with those that stand with us on our issues regarding wages, hours, and working conditions, period. The IAFF doesn’t care if you’re a republican, democratic or independent. They only care if you will support our issues related to our profession.
Here in Long Beach we also have some big elections coming up in March of 2020. Even number city council seats are up for election along with various other measures, as well as a special election for Council District 1 as Lena Gonzalez was elected to the senate. Council District (CD) 2 will be a contested race, CD 4 will be a contested race, CD 6 will be a contested race, and CD 8 will be a contested race. All of these upcoming council races will be very heated and there is good chance just based on percentages that not all incumbents win. However, your board of directors remains very engaged with current council members and those seeking to unseat incumbents. We continue to push to the forefront the issues that affect our Local 372 and work with elected officials to ensure our issues are addressed.
Lastly, probably to the most important issue on the March ballot will be making Measure A permanent. If you remember when Measure A (1% sales tax increase) was passed by the voters in 2016, it was scheduled to reduce to ½% in 2022 and then sunset completely in 2026. However, Local 372 along with LBPOA are strongly supporting making this sales tax measure permanent. Measure A has been such a positive impact for LBFD and LBPD and ensuring that we don’t have to make major cuts in the future because the nearly $60 million in tax revenue disappears if Measure A was allowed to dissolve. The most important thing to understand with making Measure A permanent is regardless if this measure passes or not everyone in Long Beach will pay 10.5% sales tax. Several agencies within LA County are preparing to bring forward sales tax measures that have a strong chance of passing. If they pass and Measure A fails, you will still be paying the 10.5% sales tax. However, instead of the sales tax revenue being reinvested into LBFD, LBPD, fixing streets and sidewalks the money will go to projects outside of Long Beach. It is ABSOLUTELY VITAL that we pass Measure A and I can’t thank our mayor and city council members enough for bringing this item forward and allowing the residents of Long Beach to vote on making this a permanent tax. We must pass Measure A this March to help secure our future funding for the LBFD. Please don’t hesitate calling me to discuss Measure A in further detail.
Rex Pritchard, President
Long Beach Firefighters, Local 372