For more than a decade, Phoenix Fire Department vehicles have been emblazoned with union stickers. Soon, those stickers will be but a memory, thanks to a new initiative being introduced to the city. According to opponents of allowing the stickers to remain, their placement on department vehicles constitutes unfair and unpaid advertising.
“It was wrong for the city to allow the stickers on the trucks,” Mark Spencer, a former police officers and former Police Law Enforcement Association president, told 12News.com. “We wanted to know how clearly a nationally, political active labor union got free advertisement on city of Phoenix fire trucks… Other labor groups didn’t have access to this privilege,” Spencer stated.
The controversy over the stickers started back in May, when Phoenix Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner received a letter from Phoenix assistant city manager Milton Dohoney. Dohoney wrote that despite the fact these stickers had been on official vehicles for more than a decade, it was time to take them off. Dohoney explained that since there was no contractual relationship spelling out the need for the stickers, their placement on official vehicles could be in violation of Arizona laws.
This is not the first time that stickers were forcibly removed from department vehicles. Earlier this year, the department forced firefighters to remove tribute stickers from all department owned vehicles as well. The removal of the stickers, honoring Brad Harper, a firefighter who died in the line of duty, did not sit well with the men and women putting their lives on the line every day.
“It’s shameful to remove a tribute to a fallen firefighter,” Mark Spencer explained. Captain Tom McCracken wondered exactly how far the city was planning on taking the new stance against stickers. He asked reporters if soon they would be forced to remove the manufacturer’s plates or stickers displaying the “International Association of Firefighters” logos.
“It’s more of a waste of taxpayer money to pull that sticker off the truck,” McCracken explained.
Local 493 president Steve Beuerlein wondered why the city was preoccupied with the stickers on the vehicles at all, and wondered if there weren’t more important things to be conversing about. “The fact that any advertising is generated is really ridiculous,” Beuerlein told reporters.