Kings County and its firefighters reach a deal over pay, end their stalemate

Kings County and its firefighters reach a deal over pay, end their stalemate

KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – After almost a year without a contract, firefighters in Kings County say negotiations between their union and the Board of Supervisors are promising and a new deal being signed between the two is on the horizon.

Over the past 10 months, the Kings County Board of Supervisors and its firefighters found themselves at an impasse over wages and other staff benefits.

Why is there a salary deadlock between Kings County and its firefighters?

June 30, 2023, was the day the Memorandum of Understanding expired between the two groups leading to negotiations for a new contract. Firefighters said they needed higher wages to retain and recruit workers and that the county was unwilling to raise their wages at the time.

In April, the firefighters pointed out on social media that fast food workers earned a higher minimum wage than them. The response was an outpour of support from the community.

“The amount of public support that was garnered us was amazing and I think it actually was a little push in the right direction to help us get where we are today,” Kings County Firefighter Kevin Garcia said.

The Board of Supervisors in Kings County initially believed firefighters were misinformed, citing that though firefighters did earn less per hour, they worked more hours than the average fast food worker.

However, according to Kings County Firefighters, the Board of Supervisors did not understand the firefighters’ perspective.

“Now that they’ve become fully aware they really stepped up and done a great job of getting that contract done,” Kings County Firefighter Ed Rhyman said.

Though firefighters were initially upset at the lengthy proceedings leading up to the deal, they say that now they are grateful a solution has been found.

“We’re thankful for the Board of Supervisors stepping up and putting public safety first,” Garcia said.

Firefighters are confident in the deal and say once the deal is finalized it will ensure they can compete with neighboring agencies and not lose staff to other fire departments.

“It’s going to increase our chances of getting those recruits to look at us and actually put in and want to work for us in the long term,” Kings County Firefighter Dolly Silveria said.

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