Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Anonymous Firefighter That Makes Sense

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Benefits":

Here are some observations for both sides to consider before tomorrow's last attempt at reasonable men and women negotiating in good faith:
The APFF will continue to distrust the City Manager and Council.
Union die-hards will continue to dismantle the department for personal agendas.
Department managers will continue to be caught in the middle.
Citizens will still be in the dark about the real cause of all this and the details of civil service.
The election was won by the APFF; yet neither side told the truth or had fair campaigns.
Followers from both sides were blind to root cause and the real issues.
Unethical behavior from both sides, NOW and DURING the campaign has made an impact to current decision making on both sides.
Fair proposals won’t see the light of day because neither the city nor the union will demand a fair negotiation with real give and take from both sides....sounds a lot like the collective bargaining Crow has threaten. This is in the future folks, good luck; I won’t be here for that one…
Young members want old members out for promotions.
Young members don't care about lost benefits because of their ignorance and entitlement attitudes, and their sense of time- "they have time to get everything back", lol.
Many mid-life members will be the real losers, those with new families. Yet many have been silent until now….shame.
Old members will have to retire early. Shame that many didn’t take a stand.
Crow and his terrorist inner circle will continue to try to transform this department into Fort Worth.
Crowson will go in a few years and the new chief will have a mandate for reform - from the City Council's perspective, not Crow's. As it should be.
Arlington Firefighters (I say this because not all FFs whine about their working conditions) will continue to whine about everything and not share the truth -
They work only 100 days out of a year with current and 143 benefits. The vast majority don't make so many calls that it’s a hazard to their health. This department only has about 100 dangerous structure fires a year; so do the math about how dangerous they say it is. Even at hazardous calls we have state of art equipment, policies and training to keep us safe. Firefighters love to wrap themselves up in how dangerous they have it, come on; I've been around for a long time and have done everything anyone else has had to do....and its BS folks.
No disrespect to those that have suffered on the job, it can be very very bad and we do deserve support and compassion from the public. This is just tough love for those out their spreading misinformation.
AFD has always had one of the best pay and benefit packages in region. Even with the proposed pay increases we are on the verge of being back in the top tier. Thanks Trey and Council!
Hey, union where has Crow been? Writing "books", protecting disciplined employees, or learning for his next job as a union lobbyist like his budding Curtis Dunn and Randal Meadows?
Tomorrow will come and go. I hope and pray I have a decent department to go back to and work for......because this is a right to work state after all.
As much as I would like to see the APFF leadership replaced, I pray they listen to reason and make a fair settlement, same for you Mr. Parker, Mr. Yelverton and city team.
-An Arlington Firefighter and citizen, name withheld for many reasons.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Benefits


This week the Fire Union will meet with the City Manager and the Fire Chief to see what the benefits package for the firefighters will look like going forward.  The Union will be representing the 328 firefighters and the City will have to consider what the fire department will look like under the conditions set forth in Part 143 or Civil Service.  Now the Union can negotiate until the vehicle of Meet and Confer goes away, which is around November 30th.  Civil Service will be instituted on October 30th and the deadline to put in retirement papers under the current benefits package is September 30th.  So those are the time restraints that the participants have to operate under.  What is at stake here is all the benefits that the City offered and negotiated under Part 142 which is the Municipal protection and benefits package currently being utilized.  The Union asked the citizens to give them permission to operate under the Part 143 or the State protection and benefits package, which you authorized in May at the ballot box.  What is important to understand is that the City Council has stated that the benefits package that the firefighters currently operate under will be removed.  Everything that was accrued under the Municipal package will not move forward into the State package.  I have stated this many times on this blog site, prior to the election date, and now the process of negotiating  what benefits the firefighters receive is about to be determined. 
Now obviously the firefighters would like the protections of Civil Service AND the current benefits offered to them by the City.  As a matter of fact they even refer to them as OUR benefits.  Well, the reality of the situation is that the City benefits don’t transfer unless they are negotiated.  Civil Service offers firefighters protections that no other city employee has, and as Part 143 is instituted and the firefighters move to those State protections then they no longer deserve the Municipal benefits.  It is well known that Arlington offers a very generous benefits package, probably the best in the Metroplex.  But the firefighters knew this going into the election process.  These are what they are giving up:

401K Match                       EMT Pay                            Stability Pay                        Paramedic Pay
Longevity Pay                    Educational Incentive     Acting/Out of Class           Sick Leave Sellback
HazMat Pay                       Positional Pay                   Divers Pay                           Language Pay
Investigator/EOD             Incident Tech Bonus        Swing Pay                            Meet and Confer

This is what they will gain or retain:
Base pay                              Longevity pay                    Hiring Guidelines              Promotional Guidelines
Disciplinary Guidelines     Holiday Pay

Now what is important to realize is that the police department doesn’t have all these pays and they are not Civil Service.  For instance there is no SWAT pay, etc..  So I’m sorry but the firefighters knew all of this going into the election.  It is time for the City to institute Civil Service and it is time for the firefighters to give back all of the benefits provided by the city.  Now I know that this hurts some very good employees at the fire department, but whether the benefit stays or it goes is now in the hands of the negotiating process, and the players at the table.  The Council will only approve or disapprove the final outcome.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Mr. Jon D. (or Whatever Your Real Name Is)

Mr. D. you have stated that you would take my wings from me because you were a retired pilot and you know so much about me.  Well Sir here is the reason that you can't take my wings from me.  On September 16th, 2011, only 14 days before my retirement I gave my wings freely to someone much more deserving than you.  His name was Jared and I was flying him from LA to Orlando on a Make Wish flight.  You see Jared had cancer, and he has my wings.  Now I have some Navy wings at my house and you can come over and TRY to take them from me, but you don't deserve those either.  Make friends with all the Union Firemen, you will need their help leaving my humble home.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

So Now What?


It is very important that the Fire Union understands where they are in time currently, and where they need to go.  In Tuesday evening’s meeting, the entire Council gave direction to the City Manager and Fire Chief concerning the parameters of Civil Service going forward.  The Union doesn’t like it.  So now things are in “concrete,” for the City, unless the Union does something.  Meet and Confer is leaving at the end of November.  Civil Service will start at the end of October, and the 30 day deadline for putting in your retirement papers is at the end of September.  So these are the parameters that will frame the process going forward.    The urgency is obvious, unless Crow maintains his “concrete” position.  Obviously, after my talking with Chris, Crow sent his email, stating that he is now ready to meet.  Although the City didn’t have to, that meeting will occur this next week.  Good for him, it’s about time.  First off let me state that I called Chris to meet.  I didn’t have to do that, but for the citizens of Arlington I feel compelled to build as good a fire department as possible under the guidelines of civil service, and I reached out to him.
Other than the “concrete” statement, Crow has stated two other things that stuck in my head.  1) “Your benefits will not be touched because I have contacted all the Councilmembers except Parker, and they have assured me of this.”  I thought this statement odd because Ms. Capehart was in England for two weeks.  So I asked if anyone had been contacted by Mr. Crow about firefighter benefits and the answer was a resounding NO.   Again Mr. Crow stood in front of you and lied.  This style of leadership is truly problematic, and the only way to move forward, in my mind is to remove the problem.   But it is your Union.   2)  The evening of the election Crow stated, “there will be hell to pay but we will do it with civil service”.  I believe this to be one of the few true statements that Crow has made in the entire campaign.  So civil service was given to you by the voters.  The Council’s responsibility to the voters is to operate within the parameters of Part 143.  But in arriving at this conclusion there seems to be a reality as to just what that means.  I have written numerous blog articles stating plainly that there will not be a cherry picking event, concerning the benefits that you currently enjoy under Part 142.  But you didn’t believe me, you believed Crow and look where that got you.  You will not have it as good as you currently do, that is simply the truth.  But the Fire Union is totally responsible for the reduction in the quality of life in the Arlington Fire Department.  It isn’t the Council.  
So now you are in a position to negotiate.  This is a very narrow window to accomplish what needs to be done.  I would suggest that the Union put a reasonable solution in front of the City, belligerence and hostility will not play well here.  Good luck.  
As a side note I get all the Anonymous comments written to me. Some are good and they get posted, but some are directly from the playground with a child’s mentality.  Those don’t normally get published.  I reacted to one that I probably shouldn’t have and it was removed along with the provocateur’s post.  I will apologize.  You see I have never challenged the courage required to do your job.  By the same standard you can’t possibly understand the resolve that I or current carrier pilots face each day to protect the right for you to post Anonymously.  Have enough courage to put your name next to your post , or have enough common sense to post reasonably.  Your current attitudes will not further your position favorably.         

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Lunch With Chris Balough


I called Chris to have lunch with him on Monday.  I have always thought Chris to be reasonable and someone I could  talk to.  There are certain elements of the Fire Fighters Union that have a sensible chord and I believe Chris to be one.  The reason for the meeting was to talk some sense to the union.  My message was Sick Leave and Vacation Leave have been off the board for 3 weeks and it has not motivated Crow to talk.  As a matter of fact things are in “concrete”.  Therefore, we can surmise that the cuts weren’t deep enough and Crow is happy with the 143 plus.  So after the meeting Chris told Crow and Crow wrote an email to Trey, copy Roxanne and Victoria, that he is willing to meet with him anytime.  Crow is simply covering his fanny with the rank and file, because he was fine with the loss of sick leave and vacation.  You see if Crow wanted back sick and vacation he would have said something in the last 3 weeks but he didn't.  It's ok with me.

Yesterday the Council had a special meeting that I urged concerning Civil Service.  If you watch the afternoon presentation, Trey’s timeline doesn’t give enough time for Fire Fighters to make a decision about putting in their papers.  They deserve time to make this important decision.  Yesterday the Council removed every benefit that is not contained in Part 143.  It is all gone.  The Council is tired of the dysfunction of the fire union. 

Meet and Confer has been curtailed and there is 48 days until Civil Service arrives.  That is important because, that is the drop dead date for all your benefits.  If you want anything back it has to be done prior to November 1. 

The other item that I brought to Chris is that if Crow sits at the table, you will lose everything.  He has been your representative for the six years that I have been here and all your benefits are gone.  Good job!  I told Chris to find others if you want back any benefits. 

At the meeting yesterday we had a lengthy conversation with our Lawyer Betty Lynn.  Betty Lynn has been a very respected Civil Service Lawyer for the last 37 years and represents cities all over the state of Texas.  She stated that Arlington offered the best benefits package of any other city in the Metroplex.  You have successfully thrown that away, and I really don’t care if any aspect of it ever comes back to you.  If you want any part of those benefits, Trey and Chief Crowson are the people that you will have to deal with, Council has spoken and acted.  Good Luck!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Civil Service Is Coming


Yesterday at the afternoon Council meeting we dealt with the unknowns of Civil Service in consideration of the FY18 budget.  It is budget time and we have to deal with this creature before the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1st.  The first thing that was accomplished was the termination of meet and confer.  A letter will be sent today advising the APFF that meet and confer, the vehicle used by Arlington Unions to negotiate with City management, has been terminated for the Firefighters Union.  The reason is that Meet and Confer is not required in Part 143 of the Local Government Code, therefore it is not a requirement of the City to provide it.  Meet and Confer will be continued with the police union.

It has always been the position of Council, that if Civil Service was approved by the voters, the increase in cost would come from the Fire Department Budget.  The City has allotted a budget of $49 million for FY18, for the Fire Department.  Contained in that budget is the purchase of two fire engines costing $1 million.  We have allowed the first engine to be purchased and held the purchase of the other until later in the year to see if there are any unexpected expenditures connected with Civil Service.  The City Manager has identified a cost for the implementation of Civil Service for the first year to be $807,000.  As stated this additional cost will come from the Fire Department’s budget, namely the pockets of the firefighters themselves.  A listing of benefits that have been removed are as follows:

  • Meet and Confer
    1.  Withdraw & Remove Previous Concessions
  • Vacation
    1.  Start with 180 balance on October 30, 2017
  • Sick Leave
    1.  Amend policy affecting covered Fire Fighters to align with 143.
  • Cost of Civil Service ($807,000)
    1.  EMT-1 ($396,000)
    2.  Holiday Pay ($160,000)
    3.  Education Incentive 30/60/90 ($59,700)
    4.  Sick Leave Sell Back ($87,500)
    5.  FLSA ($90,000)  *still under consideration*
    6.  Swing Pay ($12,500)

Since FSLA overtime would unfairly affect other employees, it remained untouched leaving an additional $90,000 to be cut elsewhere.  I also stated that I didn’t want our military reservists to be touched by the advent of Civil Service.  A lie was sent to our citizens from the Union stating that military reservists were having to use vacation to serve their country each year.  The truth is that reservists are allocated 150 hrs. in Part 143.  The City currently allocates 180 hrs. each year, and I wanted to insure that the higher of the two was maintained instead of the lower Part 143 requirement.  Those serving our country should not have to bear the brunt of Unionism.

Lastly, we told the firefighters that benefits would be cut, and that they would not be able to enjoy the benefits that were given to them at the City level when seeking protection at the State level.  This is the truth of that statement.  The only individual that stated, ”your benefits won’t be touched,” was the Union President.  Now that same Union President has already threatened to sue us over two items.  The first is the advent of the Deputy Chiefs becoming salaried employees and the second is the Apparatus Operator list.  Bring it!  Litigation is very expensive and we knew that the Union would try to sue the City at every opportunity.  That is why we have held the $807,000 from benefits and the $500,000 for the fire truck in abeyance.  The fire union has asked the citizens for civil service and the citizens have given it to them.  It is now time for the Council to implement the wishes of the voters.  

Friday, July 14, 2017

There Is A Need - Please Help


I want to tell you about a special need that our community currently has, and I hope that you can find it in your heart to help. Scout Troop 517 has been operating in Arlington for the last 25 years. They are a special needs troop and contains challenged scouts of all ages both male and female. On or around 29 June their trailer was stolen containing approximately $10,000 of special need equipment that made camping out possible for these scouts. https://www.dallasnewscom/news/arlington/2017/06/27/special-needs-scouts-stuck-homeafter-trailer-stolen-arlington-church.
.   Now the reason that this incident has affected me so is that most of these scouts are friends of the YMCA. Each year, for the last 5 years, I have sent these friends to a Rangers game so that they could enjoy baseball. Someone has stolen their camp trailer that was stored at the First United Methodist Church, with all of the necessary gear that allowed them to go on campouts. Luckily the residents of the City of Arlington have taken issue with this injustice and several have offered to help, in essence making lemonade out of lemons. I was approached today by Mr. Brad Thompson, who has started a website to raise money to replace the stolen equipment. He felt that he simply had to do something to assist those in need who required a helping hand. So he started a fund at: www.gofundme.com/troop517 . I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to help these special scouts to go to this website and make a donation. Brad currently has $8,600 and is looking to raise the full $10,000, that will allow these scouts to continue to enjoy the pleasures of the great outdoors and permit them the opportunity to appreciate nature. I hope that you can find it in your heart to help out.