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San Diego City Council votes unanimously to restore city firefighters death and disability benefits

Posted at 12:01 PM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 15:01:43-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - After seven years of demanding that their death and disability benefits be restored, San Diego City Firefighters finally had their voices heard after the City Council voted unanimously to bring the benefits back.

The council made the decision less than five minutes after the firefighters arrived at City Hall and was met with a standing ovation.

The benefits were eliminated after the passing of Proposition B, so all firefighters hired after 2012, about 350, never received them.

"All other firefighters across the state and most across the country have a defined death-and-disability if killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty, they have a pension, and they have pay parity," said Jesse Connor, president of the firefighters union.

The benefits provide city employees injured in the line of duty and unable to continue work 50 percent of their base salary until death. For those killed in the line of duty, the money would go to their spouse.

After lengthy back and forth talks between the city's firefighters union and the city's labor negotiators, an agreement was made.

But, in that time, the union says it had trouble with recruitment and retention, leading to countless hours of overtime as firefighters continued to serve the community every day and hour of the week.

Now, they say they are feeling thankful that all firefighters will have equal benefits.

"It's amazing," said 17-year veteran of the city's fire department, Tony Tosca. "The word 'unity' comes to mind. We're all equally happy for the same benefits, and moving forward it's a great thing to know that everyone coming on we're all gonna have that same equal benefit."