Contract talks between Los Angeles negotiators and the city firefighters union are heating up, and not in a good way.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today ripped into the city firefighters union, calling the labor leaders “irresponsible’’ for posting warning signs in neighborhoods where rescue unions and ambulances have been temporarily shut down as part of the city’s cost-cutting measures.
Fifteen fire trucks and six ambulances are being pulled out of service daily on a rotating basis citywide. All fire stations remain open and staffed.
But the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City posted a “brownout closure map’’ on the union’s website, annoying the mayor even more. Union officials have been locked in negotiations with the city since before the labor contract expired June 30, and talks continued today with no success.
The city is asking firefighters to accept a cut in pay and benefits to help the city close a $530-million budget gap, including a $52-million budget cut at the Fire Department.
“We’re in an economic crisis that’s unprecedented,’’ Villaraigosa said this morning. “All we’ve asked them is to take a small cut. The leadership of that union has refused to do that, so they are engaged in the irresponsible — let me repeat — the irresponsible activity of putting signs in front of fire stations scaring the public …. I think you can tell, the public isn’t responding. They get it. They see it. They recognize that that kind of scare tactic is unacceptable.’’
Firefighter union President Pat McOsker defended the warnings, saying the public “has a right to know about the closure of fire companies and ambulances’’ in their communities, since the action will delay response times and could lead to “more deaths.’’ McOsker said it was unfair to ask firefighters to take a pay cut when most civilian workers are not being asked to do the same.
Story by LA Times