Yesterday was a long and interesting day. I started my day with a Municipal Policy Committee about the parking of vehicles in backyards. I finally got out of Council about 9:15 that evening. We talked about a lot of issues from funding the new Baseball Stadium, to funding the MAX bus system for FY 2017. But I want to stay on the theme of Civil Service for the time being. The AFF is the Firefighter Union and they want to be out from under the protective umbrella of the city and under the protection of the state of Texas. The reason for this is because they don’t like Chief Crowson. They don’t like the removal of overtime down from 35,000 hours to 6,000 hours. They don’t like his policies, nor his discipline and here is a sample of their rhetoric:
“For too long, we have endured policy changes that adversely affect many of our members. Members are disciplined at an alarming rate with punishments far exceeding the circumstances. We witnessed restructuring of the Battalion Chiefs’ positions, and now a proposed reclassification of those same positions which will diminish their rights to representation and due process. .. . We have appealed to our elected officials for change and they have only sympathized with us, claiming many of our issues should be handled by city management, not them.”
Well very little of this is true. The policy changes, such as the squad concept are used by many FD’s throughout the United States. The Paramedic Program was just given the highest award in the nation. These policies work and save lives. It is time the AFF gets with the modern age of firefighting. If you don’t like the job then go somewhere that is not progressive and forward thinking.
In yesterday’s afternoon meeting, all the instances of discipline were broken down. It was obvious to see that Chief Paulsgrove administered more discipline to the troops than Chief Crowson. Concerning the Battalion Chief’s position, it was clear that a commensurate position at the Arlington Police Department is the Deputy Chief. The Fire Department is simply aligning itself and making a new position called a Deputy Chief. This position pays $5,000 more than a Battalion Chief, and you move from an hourly employee to a salaried position in management. Chief Crowson is currently finding plenty of Captain applicants that are applying for this position.
Lastly let me address the AFF’s approach to Council. This is inappropriate! You have a chain of command, use it. You have Meet and Confer, make it work. Council heard your accusations in “The Book” and the Auditor found them to be false. She also found your utilization of overtime to be abhorrent. We have looked at the facts of the above accusations and found them to be false and/or childish. We have conducted a survey by an independent source, and you have failed to respond. And you say we have done nothing. Now Civil Service!
What I think is hilarious about Civil Service is that the Union that is perpetrating all these problems, believes that if Civil Service prevails, firefighters will retain their current benefits. Nothing could be further from the truth. You want Civil Service? You will get Civil Service and nothing more. Good Luck.