Friday, September 29, 2017

Firefighter Sick Leave Abuse

In the afternoon work session on 26 September Trey Yelverton, the city manager, presented an update on civil service.  The first chart he put up was a pay scale depicting that the average fire fighter in Arlington makes $86,000 a year.  All that is required is a high school diploma.  One must consider that firefighters only work 8 days a month in earning this wage.  But then Mr. Yelverton started putting up sick leave utilization charts and how, since August (start of budget talks) sick leave has increased requiring an increase in overtime expenditures.  So please let me elaborate.

As you can plainly see from this chart unauthorized absences increased dramatically from the time budget discussions started concerning the reductions in fire department benefits.  I might add that no other departments at the city had this increase in sick leave.
This staffing chart, illustrates that sick leave abuse drove the department staffing down to 76 firefighters per shift.  76 is the number that is required to staff all trucks and keep them in battery for the entire 24 hour period.  In order to accommodate the abuse of sick leave by our firefighters we had to call in others and pay them overtime, depicted on the chart below.

The increase of FY17 overtime due to excessive sick leave, cost the taxpayers an additional $1 million dollars just to staff the fire department and would have cost the department $1.5 million if the department hadn't gone to minimum staffing.  Chief Crowson has taken the overtime budget and lowered it from 36,000 hours annually down to 6,000 hours.  I can only look at these numbers and come up with one conclusion.  Certain union following firefighters, with high school diplomas making $86,000 a year, who swore an oath to serve and protect the citizens of Arlington, find it more convenient to call in sick than to uphold their oath to the citizens.  In doing so they have cost those same citizens an additional million dollars in overtime.  I believe that since this phenomenon is only indigenous to the fire department and no other part of city staff, that this action was contrived by their union leadership.  I find this action by the fire union to be despicable, and that the actions of anyone participating in this organized labor action, to be reprehensible.  These firefighters should be ashamed of themselves, but they have no contrition, therefore no moral compass.  How you can put the safety of the citizens, below your personal agenda is beyond comprehension.  How you can denigrate the uniform and ignore your sworn oath, speaks volumes to your lack of character.  Shame on you!

To those good firefighters that have been caught up in this I apologize.  But the actions of the Union President and his selected e-board have clearly gotten you into this situation.  How they can do this without remorse astounds me.  Good luck to those who chose to retire and those that leave for greener pastures.  Your service was greatly appreciated.    

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


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.