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New Controversy in SJ Labor Dispute

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KCBS) _ San Jose firefighters have released an audiotape that they claim shows city officials knew they were putting public safety at risk when they voted to eliminate five fire companies.

Veteran San Jose firefighter Robert Sapien said that during a presentation at an Orlando conference in May, Deputy Director Geoff Cady said he warned city officials of the impacts of reduced staffing.

"We believe this is another critical piece of information withheld from the public in an attempt to create a false sense of security about the impacts of losing five fire companies," said Sapien.

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In his comments, Cady said "our current response time objective is eight minutes, 80 percent of the time.... we think we're going to drop to 78 percent, so we'll go below what is currently adopted as the standard for the city."

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said it's no secret that reduced staffing could mean longer response times.

"I don't think anyone believes that you can do the same amount of work with 49 fewer firefighters," Reed said. "No one has ever made that claim."

Union members recently overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to rehire those laid off firefighters in exchange for an 8.9 percent wage concession.

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