It is true that time does not stand still for anyone, and that includes those of us who care so deeply about CDF Firefighters. Bob Wolf, the longest serving president in CDF Firefighters’ history,retired after a 10 year tenure at the helm. President Wolf served during one of the most vibrant periods in firefighting history. He was responsible for overseeing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that allowed firefighters to retire with dignity after 30 years on the job. He is responsible for the change of our name to CAL FIRE; the restructuring of how we provide the tools necessary for us to do our job.
Most of all, Bob Wolf will be remembered for his absolute dedication to all of the firefighters. He will be the model on which all future leadership is based. We also saw the retirement of our longtime treasurer, Art Smith. It is remarkable to think that many of our firefighters weren’t even born when Art Smith took over the financial responsibilities of our union. He has been the treasurer for CDF Firefighters for 27 years. His extraordinary counsel and firm hand will be missed, although he has generously agreed to manage the transition. Also leaving the Board after a remarkable 20 years of service at the executive level is Tom Gardner. Tom served as our president and past president and was a popular and active grassroots leader throughout his career. He, too, will be missed greatly. We wish him the best.
Unlike our brothers and sisters throughout the state of California, CDF Firefighters deal with the California Legislature in the same manner that others
deal with their Boards of Supervisors and City Council. Our MOU, as well as the budget, are promulgated through legislation at the state level and are ultimately signed by the Governor.
This year, the new freshman class in the California State Assembly is the second largest in California history. Of the 80 members, 38 are freshman and
while they bring extraordinary diversity and energy to the job, they also have a daunting learning curve. California is an extraordinarily complex state to govern.
The challenge for CDF Firefighters Local 2881 is to meet with the new members and share with them the work we do and the critical role we play in the public safety paradigm of our state.
The transition for CDF Firefighters is not going to be easy. Obviously, we will miss Bob Wolf, Art Smith, and Tom Gardner a great deal. Our priorities are to protect and enhance the wages, benefits, and conditions of our membership.
We also think it is of real importance that we revisit the testing and hiring process within CAL FIRE. The confusion that is inherent with the candidates doing self-evaluation should be evident and needs to be addressed.
It is interesting to note that 30 years ago CDF Firefighter engines had a 5-0 staffing level. Unfortunately, during the economic downturn it was not unheard
of for 1-0 staffing to be seen. It is very important that we revisit staffing levels and hopefully convince the Legislature that full staffing makes the best sense.
We also plan to revisit our communications plan so that internally our clarity of purpose as union leadership will be clearly understood by all of our
Finally, the success of turning back Proposition 32 highlights for all of us the benefits of solidarity and the importance of workers being protected by a
union. We look forward to working with all the California firefighters to make 2013 a great year.