Bob Wolf, president of California Department of Forestry Firefighters, sent an e-mail last week to the union's executive board announcing that the 3,900 or so employees in Bargaining Unit 8 will be furlough-free through the end of this year. They'll also be exempt through Dec. 31 from state policy changes that no longer count leave time toward the threshold for overtime pay.
We talked to CDFF spokesman Terry McHale and asked why the union won the extension.
"It's the uniqueness of the job," McHale said. State firefighters can be asked to travel from fire to fire, working away from home for days or weeks on end. "In terms of practicality, (the exemptions) just made sense."
Wolf was clearly sensitive to the politics of this issue:
Our entire CDF Firefighters team has worked hard to prevent negative impacts to our members and their families, and I am proud of our union's accomplishments. I can tell you that no one on our team in Sacramento has taken a single break or stopped our efforts to leave no stone unturned in our fight to prevent huge fiscal hits to our families. I ask you to Remember (sic) that not all State employees will enjoy these exemptions so be respectful when discussing this with others -- times are hard and people are hurting out there.
Click here to read the entire e-mail.