FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, Oct. 19, 2015
Contact: John Ferrick
Contact: Sgt. John Brooks
Superior Officers President
Contact: Officer Gerard Corbett
Waltham Firefighters, Dispatchers, and Police Officers Vote “No Confidence” in Mayor Jeannette McCarthy
Health, Safety, and Sanitary Working Conditions are Not Collective Bargaining Issues
Public Servants Ask Only for Safe Equipment and Structurally Sound Buildings
WALTHAM — Citing a number of vital safety shortfalls, putting first responders and residents in danger, the Waltham Firefighters and Police Officers today announce votes of “No Confidence” in Mayor Jeannette McCarthy.
“We do not have a list of demands, and we are not shaking our fists calling for an extravagant raises. We just want to work in a safe environment free from structural collapses, rodents, and expired safety gear,” said Fire Lieutenant John Ferrick, President of Local 866. “The mayor has ignored first responders and has resorted to the tried and true political tactic of calling us greedy. We are not greedy. We risk our lives for our community, and all we are asking in return is safe equipment, working fire trucks, and fire houses without sinkholes.”
“We do not come to a conclusion like this lightly,” said Fire Lieutenant Steve Centofanti, Vice President of Local 866. “No one else would like it if the floors in their office were collapsing and there were rodents running round their desks. Firefighters are no different. This vote reflects many years of frustration.”
Waltham Firefighters, represented by the International Association of Firefighters, voted No Confidence last week. Both Waltham Police unions followed suit yesterday.
Among the problems cited by the firefighters:
- 15 Percent of the City’s Fire Hydrants are either broken or in need of significant repair
- Firefighters were using out of spec fire boots and protective gear that were beyond their expected lifespan, and were forced to replace them with their own money, in violation of the labor contract. The Mayor did not responded to requests from the department, in violation of the law, until the firefighters went public with their concerns.
- The Firefighters have filed several grievances for unfair labor practices in the past five years, and the Mayor has never responded to a single one. Every grievance has gone to arbitration, extending its time and costing more taxpayer dollars.
- Several fire trucks are out of service, and the department is using a 32-year-old ladder truck in place of a broken down ladder truck. The typical cost of a ladder truck is $1 million. This truck cost the city $8,000, and requires constant repairs and upkeep to keep it on service.
- Fire trucks are constantly breaking down due to age and lack of upkeep, requiring the City to spend more money on maintenance and repairs than in the last several decades.
- Fire trucks are not receiving timely maintenance including brakes and oil changes
- Fire stations are dangerous and unsanitary. Fire houses have rodent and insect infestations, and one fire house has a sink hole where the trucks are usually parked.
- The Mayor, in 2005, was set to replace the Moody Street Station in her Master Plan, but when the publicity died down, she put it on the back burner. Now, the new station is not set to break ground until 2021.
- The Mayor, in violation of the law, refused to pay a firefighter who was deployed overseas as a member of the United States Military.
- The fire chief ordered a new rescue truck over a year ago. The mayor, to get good PR for herself, recommended that the funds be allocated, but when it came time to actually write the check, she refused to release the money, effectively voiding the transaction.
Among the problems cited by police officers:
- The police station is in poor condition with leaks and mold throughout
- The locker rooms are cramped with inadequate facilities for female officers
- The computer systems in both the station and the patrol vehicles are outdated
- Many patrol vehicles are in need of repair or replacement.
- Funding for training and supplies is lacking
“Our officers face potential risks/stress every day on the street. It is not unreasonable or greedy to expect a clean sanitary work environment be provided for them. Nor is it unfair to ask for the replacement of outdated equipment to enhance their safety,” said Sgt John Brooks, President of the Waltham Police Superior Officers Union.
Both the firefighters and the police officers believe that the residents of Waltham deserve first responders who are properly trained, use proper safety gear, have working vehicles and fire trucks, and who work in stations that are fit for human habitation, free to structural defects and infestations.
“We are proud to stand together, police officers and firefighters, in a unified voice,” said Officer Gerard Corbett, President of the Patrolmen’s Union. “First responders risk their lives for their community on a daily basis, and if people took the time to read the facts, they would realize that this has gone on long enough.”
Additionally, the mayor has shown a complete refusal to negotiate with public safety officials, dismissing their concerns as “union greed.”
“We have previously offered the city a contract with no raise in pay — zero percent — just so that we would have the security of a labor contract in place. The mayor refused and sent us to arbitration. By refusing to come to the table, the Mayor has actually cost the city more money than she would have if she had simply negotiated in good faith with those of us who risk our lives every day for the people of Waltham,” Ferrick said.