Last night I witnessed something that I didn’t want to see. The Council voted 8-1 to remove spouses from City insurance if the spouse could get healthcare insurance elsewhere. I was the one vote in descent. The reason for my no vote was because this didn’t have to happen. But it did. Several Firemen were in attendance and it is because of their union APFA, that this occurred in the first place. The City was prepared to give employees a 3% raise across the board with a 4% raise to the firefighters. It was their union leader that rejected this amount. Police and Staff were very happy, but not the Firefighters Union. They wanted more. So the City Manager went to work to get them more.
By removing the spouses from the protection of the City’s healthcare umbrella he could save $1.2 million. Couple this with a few other innovative ideas and he was able to come up with another 1.5%. I had a solution to the problem avoiding this outcome, but it was summarily dismissed by the Council and a vote was taken to remove the spouse. Now here’s the rub. APFA leadership will never give Trey credit in dollars for benefits. That’s the problem. Trey provides a package and APFA leadership only cares about W-2. That is unfortunate for the rest of the employees that work for the City because benefits are a big part of why they want to work here.
Last night APFA leadership had Firefighters in the audience, and everyone that spoke stated the City was giving raises on the backs of the employees. Well we didn’t give you the first 4% and ask you to do anything. But when the last 1.5% required something of you then squawking about taking something from the employees was the theme song. Greed isn’t always good, and sometimes it has its consequences. This didn’t have to be this way, but the greed of one man made it happen. I think that it is time for him to own up to that responsibility.
We don’t know what will happen with Healthcare in the future. There might come a time when the City will no longer be able to provide healthcare insurance to its employees at all. Then we can give firefighters an even bigger raise. APFA has cast me as the bad guy because they won’t take responsibility for their actions. That’s fine I’m a big boy and can take their brunt and I know how Unions work. The problem is that I like the firefighters, they are good people and perform a great service to the Community. It is unfortunate and embarrassing that current AFPA leadership will never get along with Department leadership. I have always counseled them to take the high road. This is what happens when you don’t.