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Local 2655 official responds to letter writer

May 04, 2005 - To the editor:

In response to the question asked by Barbara Larson in the April 2 edition — "Who were the firemen at the polls?" — let me offer this explanation.

Ms. Larson was referring to the firefighters who worked the Crestwood polls from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in support of Roy Robinson for mayor.

Her interest in this, I presume, stems from her curiosity about why the firefighters working Crestwood's polls were not city of Crestwood employees.

The answer is simple. The city of Crestwood does not currently allow their employees to actively participate in the political process.

Had Crestwood's firefighters been at the polls on April 5, they would have faced disciplinary action, and possibly termination. To prevent that from happening, all off-duty union firefighters from Crestwood spent the entire day working the polls in Maplewood, while the Maplewood firefighters spent the day in Crestwood.

The mayoral race in Crestwood drew a tremendous amount of attention from Local 2665 because of the potential job losses threatened by the former mayor and city administrator. As reported in this newspaper, the Crestwood Fire Department faced losing "six or more firefighters" had the former mayor won the election and Proposition 1 failed.

Because of the direct threat to the livelihoods of many of our members, Local 2665 was obligated to respond in an effort to save the jobs of loyal Crestwood firefighters, many of whom had been serving Crestwood citizens for five to 10 years.

Union firefighters from Brentwood, Clayton, Maplewood, University City, Shrewsbury, Webster Groves, Ladue, Richmond Heights, Fenton, Maryland Heights, Wentzville and Pattonville all participated in the Crestwood election. They did so to protect the jobs of their fellow firefighters who were unable to participate in the political process themselves.

Since Proposition 1 received approximately 41 percent of the vote — nowhere near what it needed to pass — Crestwood's citizens would have faced a significant reduction in its public safety services had Roy Robinson not been elected mayor.

If Ms. Larson and other Crestwood citizens have misgivings about non-Crest-wood firefighters participating in the po-litical process, I strongly encourage them to contact their new mayor and encourage him to change the rules governing employee's political involvement.

Crestwood's firefighters spent the entire day on April 5 in Maplewood. I can ab-solutely assure you they would have rather been in Crestwood fighting for their own jobs.

Kurt Becker

4th District vice president

International Association

of Fire Firefighters Local 2665

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