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Unionized We Stand?

A lot of discussion with no resolution.

Already facing a dip in property tax revenue and growing budget constraints, the Menlo Park Fire Protection District is hoping a revamped benefits package will snap its union out of a two-year impasse.

The two sides met in closed session Monday morning to discuss the proposal. Union and district officials could not be reached for comment Monday night, but attorney Richard Bolanos of the firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, who represents the district, said last week that both sides are committed to reaching common ground.

"Both sides are going to try to work this out," Bolanos said. "We are optimistic."

Duane Reno, Menlo Park Firefighters' Association attorney, said in an e-mail last week that his clients will make a formal comment after the negotiations. He didn't disclose whether the union has accepted  the dictrict's most recent offer or drafted a counter-proposal.

Since launching negotiations in August 2008, the two sides have been in limbo over salary increases and health benefits. The union's demands have varied slightly over the last two years, but in a Februray 2009 proposal to the district, the union sought a four-year contract with salary increases that would bring the 90 firefighters to five percent above the market average, or raises of between 9.65 to 11.87 percent, according to a district memo.

The district board rejected the offer and the union has yet to draft a follow-up.

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