As more than 500 acres of brushland burned in Thousand Oaks on Tuesday, dozens of Oxnard firefighters crowded the council chambers to lobby the City Council for a bigger salary increase.
Without a contract for the past 16 months and unhappy with a 3.5% raise offered by city officials, union members took their case directly to the City Council.
Firefighters spent more than an hour detailing why they should be granted the 5% raise recently awarded another group of city workers.
"We're just tired of getting the leftovers," said firefighter Tom Sugawara. "We're putting our lives on the (line) in serving this community."
Others complained that City Manager Thomas Frutchey informed union negotiators that next month he would recommend the council adopt a contract--with or without the union's consent.
The last contract with the firefighters union also was adopted by the council without the union's approval.
"We've been without a contract for too long," said Joe Pisciotta, an Oxnard firefighter for 22 years. "We're doing our job," he told the council members. "Do your job and give us our increase."
None of the council members or city negotiators responded publicly to the pleas.