Ed Harris Tells Lifeguards to Stop Saving Lives

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Press Release
Kevin Faulconer for Mayor

Union Boss Puts Union Benefits Ahead of Public Safety

(San Diego, CA) Lifeguard Union Boss Ed Harris threatened to “discontinue” water rescues in an effort to gain leverage to extract more union benefits from the City.

In a December 8, 2015 article, the Union-Tribune reported that Harris, Union Steward of Teamsters Local 911, boasted that he’d directed the union’s attorney “to explore the legality of discontinuing such rescues,” putting the lives of San Diegans and visitors at risk.

In response to the reckless threat to public safety, Lifeguard Chief Rick Wurtz was compelled to issue a directive to lifeguards to disregard Harris’s threat and reassured the public that lifeguards would never refuse to rescue people because of their deep commitment to saving lives.

“Ed Harris has disqualified himself as a candidate for mayor,” said Faulconer spokesperson Francis Barraza. “It is unconscionable that Harris would even suggest endangering lives in an effort to extract union concessions from the taxpayers. Public safety should never be used a political bargaining chip.”

Harris made the threat in an effort to demand presumptive benefits, which would grant union members coverage for injuries or illness unrelated to specific job incidents. These benefits would be unprecedented for California lifeguards and even drew a veto from Governor Jerry Brown.

Earlier this year, the lifeguard union voted 63-3 on a new labor contract negotiated by Mayor Faulconer. Harris was one of the three no votes, voting against 95% of his membership.


Comments 4

  1. I’m shocked= SHOCKED- that these incomplete statements are being issued to discredit a candidate just a few days before tens of thousands of voters cast their ballots!

    The fact is: Harris said this in response to lifeguards making rescues in sewage- contaminated water near the Tijuana River at the border. No one can blame a lifeguard for not wanting to swim in sewage- and as their representative, Harris took their side to protect their health.

    It appears Ed Harris’ statements about Faulconer’s police and dispatch failures are clearly hurting the Mayor- that’s really what this is about.

    FYI: Raw sewage in the ocean has been a serious health threat for over 15 years. In December 1999/January 2000, I recruited an oceanographer from Scripps to help me test water quality off-shore of this area.

    The sewage bacteria counts were off the charts.

    Following recent rains, similar fecal coliform levels occur at the shoreline.

    THAT’S why Ed Harris was concerned about water rescues: to protect the health of his lifeguards.

    So to be honest about Ed Harris- he was showing leadership and protecting the people he has been elected to represent.

    And the real reason he is being discredited in this dishonest way is: he is showing how weak Faulconer has been on public safety, and this is having an impact on Faulconer’s re-election efforts.

  2. Every single City Union received every thing they ever wanted during the Close Session Meet and Confer Negotiations where the Strong Mayor is the Lead Negotiator for the City voters, and the City Attorney provides the Legal Advice. Elected City Council Members are excluded from Meet and Confer Negotiations. The only elected officials looking out for taxpayers during Labor Negotiations are our Strong Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

    Our Strong Mayor Kevin Faulconer did not do his duty, and let his staff Negotiate with Themselves. There have been many side letters and constant labor negotiations since 2014, with opportunities for excessive Non-Pensionable Pay and Benefit Raises from 2016 to 2018. Staff have already pre-approved themselves for massive soon-to-be-Pensionable Pay and Benefit Increases for 2019-2020. All without review or analysis by the Independent Budget Analyst (IBA) or full actuarial accounting of the actual costs of Labor Negotiations.

    Please, someone, due their homework.

    There is a reason why the San Diego Municipal Employees Association (SDMEA), and the San Diego Police Unions Endorsed our existing Strong Mayor Kevin Faulconer long time ago.

    Council Member Mark Kersey’s Proposition H Charter Amendment Infrastructure Funding for 50% of the General Fund Growth will receive Revenue from all the planned Billions in saving from the 5-year Pensionable Pay Freeze from Lead Negotiator, former Mayor Filner on June 30, 2013 for 2013-2018. If there are no Pension savings due to the new 4-year Labor Agreements for 2016-2020, then the new City Charter Infrastructure Fund receives no money from Pension Savings. There is a reason all the City Unions approved and supported Council Member Mark Kersey Infrastructure Funding City Charter Amendment. There is virtually no risk for the Unions while they Mayor is absent as Lead Negotiator.

    Mayoral candidate Ed Harris requested that the Independent Budget Analyst (IBA) review Mayor Faulconer’s Non-Pensionable Pay and Benefits increases for 2016-2018, and Now-Pensionable Pay and Benefit Increases for 2019-2020 so that the true costs of the Self-Negotiations cost increases are known.

    Proposition H City Charter Amendment Infrastructure Fund.
    “The proposition also will require the City to calculate its pension cost each year. The pension cost includes the actuarial determined contribution to the Retirement System (SDCERS), other payments made under the City’s defined benefit plan, and employer-defined contributions made on behalf of employees initially hired after July 19, 2012 and who are not members of SDCERS. If the pension cost in any year is less than the pension cost in fiscal year 2016, the difference would be deposited in the Infrastructure Fund each year until fiscal year 2043.”

  3. “Every single City Union received every thing they ever wanted during the Close Session Meet and Confer Negotiations…”

    We don’t think any reasonable reader here would actually believe such a blanket statement. Every, every, every. We are to believe that every time a union provided its first request, the Mayor accepted it?

  4. Our Strong Mayor was not the Lead Negotiator, and did not represent voters during actual Meet and Confer Negotiations. Since Meet and Confer Labor Negotiation are private and part of Closed Session, not sure what Pay Raises and Benefits were asked for, that were not approved. Only people who were part of the Negotiating team could confirm or deny what happened behind Closed Doors.

    You are correct. Not every thing was automatically approved.

    Mayoral staff specifically did not allow for Presumption Health Coverage for the City Lifeguards. Or even a cost analysis for the increased benefit to include Lifeguards with the Presumption Healthcare for Firefighters.




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