Our Public Employees Deserve Better than Kupchick Administration’s Treatment of Firefighters


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To the Editor:

As a member of the RTM, I speak infrequently–usually when I am really concerned about an issue.  I have never sent a letter to the editor (until now), so please excuse my writing style.  I need to bring to light what I feel is inappropriate treatment of the Fairfield Firefighters by the First Selectwoman and her administration.

Some facts:

  • First Selectwoman Kupchick hired James Haselkamp as Human Resources Director to negotiate with the town’s unions. Mr. Haselkamp has a history of outlandish behavior directed at union leaders and employees in general, and firefighters in particular (https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/document-haselkamp-has-history-of-outlandish-and-inappropriate-behavior/)

  • According to verbal testimony and emails from firefighters, his behavior during the Fairfield Firefighter negotiations was similar to his questionable reported history in both Stamford and Norwalk

  • There was an 18-month period of bitter negotiations regarding the present Firefighter contract, which cost the town $251,000 of taxpayer money.  Firefighters say they would have accepted the present contract 2 years ago if it was offered

  • The arbitration award came through on July 14th after the firefighters had worked 745 days without a contract.  It went into effect after the RTM did not reject (approved) the award on August 7th (at a special meeting the First Selectwoman’s party tried to stop). The Members of the First Selectwoman’s party persisted in cutting off firefighters at this special meeting as they attempted to give public comment

  • As of the writing of this letter on September 6th, almost one month after it went into effect and almost 2 months since the Kupchick Administration was notified of the arbitrated award, an as yet undetermined number of firefighters are still not being paid their correct negotiated regular pay rate and overtime rate

  • As of the writing of this letter, no retroactive pay has been received by the firefighters for the 745 days they worked without a contract, and it is still undetermined when that will happen

As a lifelong Fairfield resident, I can say from experience that one of the strengths of this community is its many dedicated town employees, whether they are teachers, police officers, municipal employees and especially our firemen/women.  I have personally witnessed their professionalism on many occasions as described in my comments at the RTM Special Meeting on August 7th, where a member of the First selectwoman’s party tried to silence me for sharing my appreciation of what they do for our community. Our public employees need an administration that will treat them better than the way the Kupchick Administration treated our Firefighters.

Steve Berecz
RTM District 6 Representative
Fairfield, ct