The SIT Report seems to get longer every day. Thoughts and prayers to family and friends of loved ones on the fires. My hubby is in western Montana and unlike at the beginning of our marriage eighteen years ago, I hear from him via cell phone. Unfortunately, my sister and her family are in Missoula spending their summer indoors out of the smoke.
A local rural newspaper (not available via the web) had an article about Bush’s plan for “competitive outsourcing” for vehicle maintenance, communications, etc. by contracted personnel bidding for the jobs currently held by permanent USFS employees. Rural communities across the US will lose thousands of USFS jobs that provide retirement and family health insurance benefits. The article said the contractors travel around. I would not be comfortable with someone out of the FS family working on my husband’s fire engine before it is dispatched. What would the employees have to lose except that contract? At least FS employees have to go through a hiring process, are susceptible to substance-abuse testing, and have the opportunity to support a family in a rural area. I hope that the emphasis on achieving “portal to portal” pay (which is significantly important to several employees) does not overshadow the importance to fight the “competitive outsourcing” plan or at least have it be stringent enough to provide safety for all the USFS employees it will affect as well as all the ones it will put out of work.
Whatever your opinion is, contact your local representatives and let them know it.