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Unions boycott chamber awards 

The San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce Public Safety Awards Luncheon was canceled after the San Luis Obispo firefighter and police unions said, in a letter sent to 2,800 chamber members, that they would boycott the event.

Union leaders accused chamber leadership of
“seeming to line their own pockets with preferential treatment and special projects from the city that will only benefit a few.”

“With the vitriolic rhetoric heating up in the media and increasingly hostile communications to our groups from the chamber leadership, it is impossible for our dedicated firefighters and police officers to participate in the Public Safety Awards Luncheon,” wrote Erik Baskin, head of the SLO City Firefighters and Matt Blackstone, head of the Police Officers Association.

It would have been the 19th annual awards ceremony put on by the chamber to honor police officers and firefighters.

Chamber representatives did not respond to calls for comment.

The safety unions have been troubled by efforts to reform city pensions and eliminate binding arbitration. Police and firefighters feel they are getting the blame for the city’s financial problems.

Many chamber leaders were part of the City Manager’s Fiscal Sustainability Task Force. And many
of its recommendations were unpopular with the
two unions.

Baskin said he has nothing against the chamber or its members.

“We’re fed up with the hypocrisy of honoring us one day and then attacking us the other 364 days a year,” he said.

The letter can be viewed at newtimesslo.com.

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