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The fire union versus us

To the Editor:

In Rick Gans’ letter titled “Security Issues in Monarch” (West Newsmagazine, Aug. 20), he appropriately chastised a Monarch Fire District union captain for revealing confidential security measures to the press and even being disrespectful enough to make fun of the common sense enhancements to protect lives. Chances are if you had an employee who did that, he or she would no longer be employed.

One would expect the union to respect the overwhelming mandate of the voters when they elected a board majority dedicated to serving the financial interests of the residents, but the union leaders have continued to stir up as much trouble as they can to thwart the will of those they are paid to serve.

I feel sorry for those fine and well-trained firefighters who just want to do their job and are embarrassed by the distractions of their union bosses.

While I believe the service to Monarch residents is excellent, the issue in question is the taxpayer interest of who is in control and what are the costs. As I stated on one of my campaign brochures when I ran for this board seat last year, I believe in paying for excellent service, but not overpaying.

You can rely on the service, but we taxpayers have been overpaying as you can readily see at the official Monarch Transparency Portal that provides individual salaries, benefits and time off.

Why are we overpaying? Because we are still bound by a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the union signed by the previous union-supported board in 2011.

Watch for the explanation of the board’s efforts to bring that CBA in line with local expectations in the upcoming Monarch Newsletter.

Hard to understand the conflict?

The government employees fire union #2665 that rules over most of St. Louis County, into St. Charles County and beyond, is like a shadow government. They demand generous donations to their political action committee from all members and use that money, typically in the $30,000 to $100,000 range per candidate, to elect union-controlled directors to public fire boards.

Citizens who just want to serve cannot compete with that kind of machine. The union-backed directors then ensure the union owns both sides of the bargaining table, allowing firefighters to dictate their own salaries, benefits and time off, as well as who gets hired and fired.

When individuals with a high school education, paramedic’s and driver’s licenses can earn a compensation package of close to $130,000 for working 2.25 (24-hour) days per week, with three months off annually, it should sound an alarm to voters.

The Monarch Fire Protection District, under the new public interest board, is one of the few governments to be totally open with salaries and expenses which can be found on the Transparency Portal at Monarchfpd.org.

Please be assured these ongoing disruptions by the local fire union will not deter your elected Monarch Board of Directors from continuing to earnestly pursue what is best for all of us taxpayers and residents.

Under the leadership of President Robin Harris, we are making significant progress as you will note in the periodic newsletters published to keep you informed. We are grateful for the kind words and support from Rick Gans and other constituents.

Former Senator Jane Cunningham

Monarch Fire Protection

Board of Directors

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