News

Fire district labor board hearing to finish Friday

Ruling in union dispute expected by year's end

The state Public Employee Relations Board hearing over union complaints of unfair labor practices in the Menlo Park Fire Protection District is expected to finish on Friday, June 24, said fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman.

He said they expect a ruling by the end of this year."At this point, that is all that we are prepared to say since the hearing is not over," the chief said.

John Wurdinger, vice president of the Menlo Park Firefighters Association, said the union had amended its complaint as a result of a contract imposed on the firefighters in April. Negotiations first broke down in 2009. He said both sides will have four to six weeks to file closing briefs after transcripts become available, and then the judge will render a decision.

Comments

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Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 23, 2011 at 8:53 am

How much has this court action cost us so far? When are they all going to grozSCg7w up, settle up and save us taxpayers some money. Will this newspaper do an article on these costs for us? Will this final ruling also cost us more money than if the board and management settled this before going forward with this court action?


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Posted by waiting
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 23, 2011 at 9:50 am

The out come will be interesting, because if they rule against the Fire District (Directors)then they need to make a severe attitude change, stop wasting our money on legal fee's and bargin in "good faith" and resolve this, which shouldn't have gone this long. If they rule against Labor, they need to follow the course, stop whining, stop worrying about being 2nd or 3rd highest paid in SMC,and be grateful their are no layoff's or furlough days coming
their way. The Board, the Chief and Labor need to take the personalities out of this process. FORGET appeals, just get it done ! How much has this cost us taxpayers ?? Put that in your next Board report. The news media needs to really do a costing for us !!


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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Jun 23, 2011 at 10:12 am

We voted 2 NEW Directors in office and it seems they are over shadowed by the Chief, 3 existing Directors (time for removal) and nothing can get done, they are stuck ! We need 2 brand NEW faces with FRESH ideas to be voted in come November, not the same old "good old boys club" people. This is not "Chicago Politics" where Board members reign forever. Besides the Board, and Labor, how much of the problem is the Chief and his administration ? Maybe it's time to "clean house" and replace those responsibile for this expensive mess, on both sides, Fire and Labor. Does anyone know how much this whole fiasco has cost us ? I'm sure not !


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 23, 2011 at 11:21 am

Web Link


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Posted by George
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Has anyone gone to these hearings? They are public, what is going on? Has the fire board sent a liason other then attorneys?


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 23, 2011 at 7:42 pm

As someone who has followed this with more than a passing interest, there is a lot a depth to this long drawn out process.

While it may seem as if the chief and directors are delaying the process, the opposite is more true. With public safety departments making concessions, our fire fighters are asking for more. In reading the documents I have seen no evidence of the fire fighters willing to tighten their belt. They don't seem to be paying attention to what community sentiment is saying.

It's seems easy to say "just get it done" unfortunately state labor laws enacted several years ago tend to favor the fire fighters in these type of proceedings.

The community needs to say something to the fire fighters too. Tell them to be satisfied with a job -- a good paying one at that.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 23, 2011 at 8:58 pm

RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING IMPLEMENTATION OF CERTAIN TERMS OF MENLO PARK
FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT’S LAST, BEST AND FINAL OFFER TO THE MENLO PARK
FIREFIGHTERS’ ASSOCIATION, IAFF LOCAL 2400 EFFECTIVE APRIL 19, 2011
WHEREAS, the labor agreement (hereafter “Memorandum of Understanding” or “MOU”)
between the Menlo Park Fire Protection District (hereafter “District”) and the Menlo Park Firefighters’
Association, IAFF Local 2400 (hereafter “Fire Union”), expired on June 30, 2008;
WHEREAS, on April 29, 2009, the District offered the Fire Union a revised economic bargaining
proposal for a short term labor agreement through the end of the 2009 calendar year. The District’s revised
economic proposal offered to affirm all of the parties’ tentative agreements, maintain pay ranges at their
current levels, restructure the District’s medical insurance benefits, and increase and add certain special
pays;
WHEREAS, the Fire Union did not respond to the District’s revised proposal, and refused to
bargain further with the District;
WHEREAS, in June of 2009, the District offered to mediate the parties’ impasse before a neutral
mediator;
WHEREAS, in March of 2010 the Fire Union unilaterally cancelled the parties’ mediation session
before neutral State Mediator Seymour Kramer and refused to participate in further mediation or
bargaining with the District;
WHEREAS, in September of 2010, the Fire Union unilaterally discontinued mediation efforts
before PERB Regional Director Anita Martinez and refused to participate in further mediation or
bargaining with the District;
WHEREAS, on November 29, 2010, the District issued a last, best and final offer to the Fire
Union intended to provide a short term labor agreement calling only for necessary and positive
improvements to employee benefits under the District’s health and welfare plan;
WHEREAS, on December 8, 2010, the Fire Union rejected the District’s last, best and final offer
and continued to refuse to bargain with the District;
WHEREAS, on December 15, 2010, the District Board of Directors invoked the District’s impasse
procedure by requesting an impasse meeting before the full Board to permit review of the parties’
respective positions concerning the District’s last, best and final offer;
WHEREAS, on January 5, 2011, the Fire Union rejected the District’s offer to attend an impasse
meeting with the District Board and maintained its refusal to bargain with the District;
WHEREAS, given the Fire Union’s refusal to bargain and/or participate in the District’s impasse
resolution process, the District considers the impasse process to now be exhausted;
Page 2 of 3
WHEREAS, in accordance with California Government Code section 3505.4, the District Board
of Directors has determined it necessary to implement certain terms of the District’s last, best and final
offer to effect necessary improvements to District employees’ health and welfare benefits and the
District’s health and welfare benefits plan;
WHEREAS, to effect those necessary improvements, the District’s last, best and final offer
provided in part, to increase the District’s contribution toward health and welfare benefits from seven
hundred fifty dollars ($750.00) per employee per month to fifteen hundred dollars ($1,500.00) per
employee per month;
WHEREAS, the District has determined that in order to comply with the governing State and
Federal statutes and regulations applicable to the Flexible Spending Program, the increase in the District’s
contribution is best allocated in the manner provided below.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Directors of Menlo Park Fire
Protection District that:
1. The Board of Directors authorizes the District Fire Chief to implement the
following changes to the health and welfare benefits presently provided by the
District. The following changes supersede and supplant MOU section 13.1:
A. Effective May 1, 2011, the District will increase its contribution toward the
flexible benefits program from $750.00 per month per employee to
$1,100.00 per month per employee.
B. All employees not currently enrolled will be enrolled in a health care plan
provided by the District as of May 5, 2011.
C. The flexible benefit allowance can be used by an employee to offset the cost
of participation in District sponsored benefits that are available through the
District’s section 125 Plan. Employees shall be responsible for paying any
difference between the costs of selected benefits and the flexible spending
allowance provided by the District. Any amount of the flexible benefit
allowance not necessary to cover the cost of selected benefits shall be paid
to the employee in cash in an amount equal to fifty percent (50%) of the
unused flexible benefit allowance. Employee participation in the Flexible
Spending Program shall be in accordance with the terms and conditions of
the District’s Section 125 Plan Agreement, a copy of which may be obtained
from the Fire Chief or his designee.
D. In addition to the flexible benefit allowance increase specified above, the
District will increase its contribution to the Post Employment Health Plan
(“PEHP”) for each bargaining unit employee from forty-two dollars
($42.00) per month to four hundred forty-two dollars ($442.00) per
employee per month, effective May 1, 2011. Employee participation in the
PEHP will be in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Plan’s
Participation Agreement, a copy of which may be obtained from the Fire
Chief or his designee.
Page 3 of 3
2. Except as expressly modified by the terms of this Resolution, all other wages and
benefits contained in the expired Memorandum of Understanding shall remain
status quo unless and until changed by the District following the statutorily required
meet and confer process set forth under California Government Code section 3500
et. seq.
3. The Fire Chief is hereby empowered to take any action necessary in the Fire Chief’s
discretion to implement the benefits described in this resolution.
4. The District reaffirms its commitment to comply with its obligation to meet and
confer pursuant to the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Director of Administrative Services is directed to record
and implement these changes into the necessary District’s fiscal records, and personnel policies and
procedures in accordance with the appropriate accounting and personnel practices.

The above and foregoing resolution was passed and adopted by the
Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District at its regular meeting held on the 19th day of April 2011


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 23, 2011 at 10:41 pm

The posts to old links of Almanac articles by Mr. Carpenter and his latest post regarding the offer to rank and file firefighters by the MPFPD is meant to draw attention away from the fact that the MPFPD is out of touch and needs to be dismantled.

The post that Roy Desoto made on another thread, "Menlo Fire and The Santa Clara Grand Jury Report" cites an in depth independent study that Fire Departments & Districts "remain entrenched in old service and old cost structures" This article can be referenced on line by entering:

"Fighting Fire of Fighting Change? Rethinking Fire Department Response Protocol and Consolidation Opportunities"

Anyone that thinks the MPFPD is operating in our best interests only needs to look at the JPA set up by the towns of Hillsborough and Burlingame and referenced on page 69 of the current 2010-2011 budget for the Town of Hillsborough.

"The department is governed by a board of directors consisting of two council members from each city, whereas the members represent the cities in representing the level of fire services to be provided by the department. All major decisions by the board require ratification by the respective city councils. The model provides an effective tool in maximizing the delivery of fire services, controlling costs and maintaining local control in determining service levels".

Further, the executive officer shall be one of the city managers who will alternately serve a two year term. The executive officer in turn appoints the fire chief.

This model puts the control with city councils rather than a few individuals from Atherton, West Menlo Park and retired MPFPD management. When has an East Palo Alto resident ever been a member of the fire board? For that matter, is anyone even acquainted with any of the current MPFPD board members? The model that Hillsborough and Burlingame puts in place is much more democratic to the diverse areas the MPFPD covers as well as creates the added benefit of more oversight and transparency. The elimination of the MPFPD would also provide significant savings in many areas not the least of which would be the elimination of costly elections every few years for board members that in my opinion seem all too cozy with management.

Anyone that takes the time to read the Santa Clara County Grand Jury Report and also looks at page 69 of the Town Of Hillsborough adopted 2010 - 2011 budget can clearly see that the MPFPD is not working for our benefit.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2011 at 8:21 am

Thomas - I don not take issue with the model you describe, but I do have a different view with regard to how best to provide oversight to a public safety agency such as the MPFPD. First, fire fighting, rescue, emergency response, and fire prevention programs are all things that require special training, specific skills and knowledge, and, most importantly, passion & dedication at all levels of the organization. I liken it to our military, and from my perspective, bad things happen when politicians rather than generals get involved in setting our military's course. Similarly, I would not want city council members, especially those from MP, Atherton and EPA making the strategic decisions that affect the readiness and quality of MPFPD.
From what I know about the people serving on the district board, each one brings with them the passion & dedication I believe is most important to properly guide such an agency. Relationships between management & labor are complex, and problems arise even in the best of organizations. This dispute does need to get resolved, but in my view it is in no way an indication that the district's leadership or the organizational structure needs to be changed.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 24, 2011 at 8:24 am

Good try Thomas, but you wrong as usual.

"When has an East Palo Alto resident ever been a member of the fire board? " Steve Kennedy from EPA served a full 4 year term on the Fire Board about 8 years ago.

"The model that Hillsborough and Burlingame puts in place is much more democratic" Hardly, I was elected to the Fire Board twice, each time by more citizens than voted for any of the council members of either Menlo Park, Atherton or East Palo Alto. And by infinitely more people who voted for the respective City Managers.

"is anyone even acquainted with any of the current MPFPD board members?" Yes, lots of people are - see above and just ask anyone who lives in the District if they know me.

Roy posted a lot of his opinions but, when challenged, could not back those opinions with facts. The facts are that the MPFPD was the leader on getting county wide fire dispatch, on boundary drops (know what those are Thomas and why dropping them was so important?) and on urging wide are consolidation of fire and emergency services.

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


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Posted by Roy Desoto
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm

"Roy posted a lot of his opinions but, when challenged, could not back those opinions with facts." - says Peter

That's a bit over the top even for you. Plenty of my writings were based in FACT, particularly the numbers taken directly from the MPFPD budget.

Clearly, I expressed opinion about the facts I discovered. My opinion around the inappropriate expenditure of $31 million shouldn't simply be written off as wrong. Not surprisingly, I think I'm right. I suspect others do too.

Indeed, our elected representatives hold opinions and act upon them. We elect them to do so because we believe their opinions match ours. This decision is usually tied to their past behavior or writings.

I can tell you, Mr. Carpenter, that our opinions about the same facts are quite different. You will not have my vote should you choose to run.


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Posted by $$$
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Union 2400 is a money-hungry, power group. Fire Fighters are not giving in enough. Taxpayers are tightening their belts. So should the FF's Union 2400.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Lots of other fire and police departments understand the state of the economy and make concessions. It's time ours does too!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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