2 letters: City deserves battalion chief’s lawsuit; Don’t cut funding for Planned Parenthood

Battalion chiefs’ labor lawsuit against the city certainly about   ‘feeling royally dissed’
Dear Editor,
The deputy fire chiefs’ lawsuit against the City of Gilroy isn’t so much about salaries or obstreperous unions or retirement pay.  The lawsuit is about city employees of professional leadership rank feeling royally dissed, and their need for the community and the city to listen up.
If yoiu haven’t gone through the training to become a professional firefighter, nor the battlefield of a war that is fighting a thorough-going fire, you do not have the least idea of what it takes to actually do these things.  Firefighters are prepared and have the skills to perform to the extreme if it is demanded of them, and apparently feel that they should be paid accordingly.
What we see on a daily basis are those activities which are assigned to the fire department that do not match that extreme situation for which firefighters must be trained, and we somehow think that their pay should at best average out between the two roles.  Perhaps it already does.  
To make general judgments about the value to the community of the work firefighters are committed to do if needful, without expressing an opinion as to what sufficient remuneration for that work should be, is flippant.  And if the city or the community does not find acceptable the ability of unions to heavily influence pay rates for firefighters, then there should be an effort to get the voters to change the rules.  There may be good reason to do this. Or not.
Not all firefighters move through the ranks to become official leaders – the implication is that if a man makes rank, then he has the abilities it takes to do more than fight triple-A fires, and is an effective leader.  He must certainly expect to be there when he is needed without counting the hours on the job.
So, the question is, are our deputy fire chiefs exempt employees or not.
In California, an employee can be determined to be “exempt” from state law concerning employment conditions, such as minimum wage and overtime pay if he spends 50 percent or better of his time using “independent discretion and judgment.”  If he does, furlough cannot be forced upon him unless the union contract with the city is renegotiated.
If he does not spend 50 percent or more of his working time using independent discretion and judgment, then he may be furloughed and qualifies for overtime pay.  
This is a question that should have been settled agreeably by civil communication between the city and the representatives of the deputy chiefs, long before the irritation level rose to the point where the risk of either the union’s or the deputy chiefs’ losing a lawsuit seemed worth it; and the city has found itself bearing the cost of defending itself against a federal and state lawsuit which it may very well lose. There has to be some middle ground between professional outrage and stubborn righteousness.
Carol DeSantis, Gilroy

Cutting funding for Planned Parenthood would be a crushing blow to many women
Dear Editor,
Funding should not be cut from an organization that provides free life-savings services for women. Planned Parenthood has been around forever and it is vital for the health and welfare of many American women that Planned Parenthood is kept alive.
Women are a significant percentage of the many Americans who do not have health insurance. Planned Parenthood provides life-saving cancer screenings to these women. Every year women die from diseases like cervical or ovarian cancer. If a routine cancer screening had been provided, the cancer would have been caught in a stage where treatment would have been successful.
Planned Parenthood also provides birth control to women as well as to men. We all have the right of reproduction. Inhibiting or denying access to the choice to have or not to have a child, or to prevent or encourage the conception of a fetus, is only the right of the person who will be protecting this life within her womb for the next nine months. The right to choose to access these services are just that: a woman’s choice.
It could be argued that that those who do not agree with the choices provided should not have to pay for the services. That is true, except that the services being provided are highly confidential and between the patient and their doctor.
Planned Parenthood is an angel is disguise. Many women have nowhere to turn and their last resort for health should not be taken away.
Amy Garner, Hollister

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