Oxnard Firefighters Get 6% Offer

Unable to reach an agreement with its firefighters after seven months of negotiations and stalemates, the Oxnard City Council will vote Tuesday on unilaterally imposing a contract opposed by the 87-member union.

The city's "last, best and final offer" would give firefighters a 6% salary raise retroactive to Nov. 12, said Dene Jones, Oxnard's personnel and employee relations director.

The five members of the City Council said at a public hearing Tuesday that they supported the contract, which will cost the financially strapped city $193,000. Oxnard currently has $193,112 set aside for the increase, Jones said.

"We all felt a sincere need to move on something, but found it impossible," Mayor Nao Takasugi said.

The raise is comparable to those received by all other city employees this year, Jones said, adding that it would make Oxnard firefighters the highest-paid in Ventura County.

However, firefighters, who have worked without a contract since July 8, said they will continue to picket City Hall and protest at weekly council meetings.

"They're pronouncing sentence on us," said Bill Gallaher, the union president. "We should have been dressed in black."

Salaries of Oxnard firefighters should be compared to those in cities of comparable size, not to smaller cities in the county, Gallaher said.

Union members also want a contract that addresses issues such as reclassifying firefighters who regularly fill in for fire engineers or captains so they are paid for those jobs.

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