The Kern County Board Of Supervisors Discuss Budget Cuts5 (copy)

Mick Gleason is seen making a point in this file photo.

As negotiations between the Kern County Board of Supervisors and the firefighters union over a new contract continue, the two sides have entered into somewhat of a war of words.

Over the last two board meetings, members of each organization have accused the other of crossing a line of decorum.

At last week’s board meeting, union president Dave Nelson accused supervisors of attempting to demean and “villainize” county firefighters.

“You don’t know what our job is, nor do you respect what we do,” Nelson said. “You haven’t placed your family second to anything but the camera and the campaign trail. You understand only that you need something to hang your name on, something that will make you stand out within your political circles.”

Supervisor Mick Gleason responded this week, saying Nelson’s comments had been an assault on the Kern County taxpayer.

“We had an incident when a union president crossed the line from a positive response or positive criticism to one that is narrow, and focused solely on something other than the best interest of Kern County,” Gleason said during Tuesday's board meeting.

He later added, “that kind of garbage doesn’t belong in this building. It doesn’t belong here and it needs to be repulsed.”

The harsh words come at a time when the union and the county are supposed to be working out a new contract. Since May, the union has been at an impasse with the county over negotiations.

The county had proposed cutting overtime pay by $3.4 million, a small percentage of the $24 million in overtime doled out each year. The union, however, overwhelmingly rejected the county’s offer, saying cuts to overtime needed to be met with an increase in base pay. During pay discussions, the union frequently brings up the fact that cost-of-living pay increases have not been approved since 2008.

If the two sides cannot come to an agreement, supervisors can vote to impose their contract on the union, an outcome Supervisor David Couch said he hoped to avoid.

“I’m just hopeful that we are able to work collaboratively with the fire department moving forward,” he said. “Imposition is kind of my last choice.”

While public discussions over firefighter overtime have been widely covered in the media, the latest dust-up occurred after KGET-17 aired a segment detailing the issue.

Nelson said county officials painted firefighters in a bad light by participating in the segment.

“You either truly do not care about your employees, using the segment to once again kick your employees while they are down,” he said. “Or are simply using us as pawns for the next step in the political arena.”

He added that the union stood behind his statements, which reflected the sentiments of many union members.

Supervisor Leticia Perez took on a conciliatory tone.

“It is an upsetting situation for all of us, no question,” she said. “It is a difficult one, one that we should strive for civility.”

But whether or not relations get better or worse between supervisors and the union is yet to be seen. Supervisors said they hoped to negotiate further to come to an agreement on a new contract.

Firefighters have been without a contract since October 2017. It is unclear at this point when a new contract can be signed.

“We’re in some dark times here,” Nelson said in a phone interview. “(Firefighters) are just tired. They’re just broken down.”

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

(19) comments

Veritas

Oh my dear Disjointed one. You might have been the janitor or the boy you referenced, but you were no firemen. Living out your fantasies in your rest home ramblings is ok, as long as it makes you happy. If I ever get chastised by a superior intellect I’ll let you know if I get frustrated. You are a source of entertainment sometimes, especially when you blather back when I poke at you. Now don’t go all savage on me. Just a bit of fun for your holidays. Have a nice day, sir.

Mrknowitall

My dear son Veritas. Who else but a fireman would know the schedule and minute details of a firefighter but a, ahem, firefighter? Lol. Don’t hate The Player, hate The Game (of which I’m a chess player and you are obviously a checkers dude). Ha! It must be frustrating to continually be chastised by my superior intellect. That I have command of virtually every subject must hurt deeply. But it’s Christmas my child. Go in peace. Be merry. Spread cheer. For Mr. Knowitall has embraced you.

All Star

If David "The Jackel" Abbasi gets elected KC supervisor he will fix this mess.

Mrknowitall

Abassi couldn’t fix a bent paper clip. You tickle me. Follow your Master and Leader. Thus the saying, “ The Blind leading The Blind. Lol

scottybob

Next time any of you need a firefighter, or paramedic, call a council member!

Oh,yah, I fergit, they aren't available.................... So then call one of these fine people who complain about how much we overpay these firefighters. We should be thankful for their instant, spur of the moment bravery when they run into, not away from, the flames.

Bluecollar

Hall ambulance paramedics do a great job and we have volunteer fire departments all over the country, maybe we could go that route and save the taxpayers a ton of money.

Mrknowitall

Yeah yeah. They ain’t running into the flames Fool. Who “runs into the flames?” What an ignant comment. Not ignorant,.. ignant. One cat—just a regular fire dude made $123k in overtime. On top of the $70k + regular pay PLUS benefits. $200k for a regular fire dude? Quit it. Makes me want to projectile vomit all over the County salary scale and overtime policies.

Jack

@Thetruth. The guy your talking about pretty much hit the nail on the head. Betting your a card carrying member. Keep screaming for the money and see hat happens. As you can see from comments public support really isn’t behind you.

BakoMark

Overcompensated and greedy. The county needs to real them in.

Bluecollar

These guys are rightfully compensated for the cost of living in Kern County, if they want Ventura and LA county wages go work there, there's plenty of people in line for firefighter jobs here. Kudos to the supervisors for being fiscally responsible not caving into the manipulation of the union. We need more people like our supervisors in Sacramento.

Vavoom

who would like a firefighter job? just answer me... we have people ready to replace you all!

Taxpayer

Haha yeah right, KCFD has so many vacancies just like KCSO. They work overtime because there is so many vacancies, average 85 hours a week, so you work any job 85 hours a week you’re going to make more, simple math. Do you want 24 hour a day emergency service? I do!!!! I want a cop or firefighter at my front door when I need them!

Thetruth

Vavoom,

You must work in HR because that’s exactly how it works. Just raise your hand and you get a job.

2carpoor

Okay, boys, put your squirt guns away and sit down like adults to get this straightened out. Many of us are curious as to why some firefighters make more in overtime than many of us make annually. Does no one make an equitable schedule? Seriously, are firefighters still working 7 days on and 7 days off? Does that mean with flexibility, they could hold down two jobs too? I know they perform tasks most of us can't do but they knew that when they signed on the dotted line and agreed to a salary for so much effort. Pensions? We all try to earn one. One that we have earned and agreed to when signing on said dotted line. Proceed without a strike or something putting the community in danger. Get it done. You are adults, Get it done.

GetReal2

Would someone please confirm whether a (former(?)) Kern Co. firefighter commuted from Hawaii, and how many live, maybe, in Santa Clarita?

Mrknowitall

Dark times for firefighters??? Broken down???? Crying over a 1/4 cut to overtime, leaving $8M to supplement those FAT checks?? These fat cats are spoiled and WILDLY overpaid. So I guess $100k per year is just not enough for these clowns now, huh? And the benefits these cats get will make your head spin. Oh. What about their retirement plan?? Yeah. Everyone of us would love to “retire” in their 40’s and receive a perpetual pension if $75k plus annually. In addition to ALL this fat cat pay, they get the respect of the community. AND 85% of these “poor” n “broken” lil kittens work another full-time job or operate their own business. It’s a racket. Always has been. And do u know the ratio of WHITE men on the force. If u did u would vomit and know why these primaDonna’s are so expecting all that and more entitlements. Bravo to the Supervisors! Well done. Nelson n his crybabies have zero shame and actually believe they deserve all the goodies and MORE.

Thetruth

Everything you spit out mrknowitall seems to be false. But good try.#probably*couldnt*pass*the*test

Mrknowitall

Actually I worked for Station 63 $ 64 back when the small hamburger stand was where the Weinerschnitzel (sic?) is now on Roberts & N. Chester, sonny. So I know. One fellow firefighter farmed n sold hay. Another ran a plumping biz. Another had rental units. And on and on. Just relaxed all day. Are very good—though firemen, though well paid are basically ALL mooches. They took turns cooking but when they shopped they stuck to a stingy budget and the groceries left a lot to be desired lol. We had a kid during summers who mowed our lawns and kept our Sun Tea jars full n tasty. He also mopped our garage n cleaned restroom/locker area. Responded to a fire now and again. Summers some mountain drudgery. But the money was phat. After parlaying my salary and O-time into s biz—it turned out I was better off money-wise to focus on the biz. Our shifts back then we’re 2 days on 2off- 2 on 2 off -2 on 2 off-then 7days off thst’s right one week off twice a month minimum. Lol

Mr. Knowitall does indeed Knowitall so quit trying to misdirect readers with a false narrative Mr. Greedy -do-berry-little-work-go-to-the-gym-to-preen Fire-dude. Lol

Veritas

Oh, now he was a fireman back in the day! C’mon Truth, don’t pick on the oil’ loon. When he is off his meds the delusions roll. Let him ramble, it makes his day.

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