Friday, January 6, 2017

Civil Service and the AFF (Discipline)

The Union has had a problem with the way the Fire Chief, Don Crowson is doing his job and has tried to get him fired for the last three years.  Now they have escalated their unhappiness to Deputy City Manager Bowman and the City Manager.  Their unhappiness was with their W-2 pay.  The Council addressed that.  Now they are unhappy with the disciplinary system and the hiring and promotion practices, and they are willing to reduce their W-2’s in order to change this process.

The Fire Union is seeking to break away from the city’s protection umbrella and seek protection under the state program of Civil Service.  In the afternoon meeting of the January 3rd Council Session we had a very good brief by Ms. Lisa Zepeda one of our staff lawyers.   The subject matter addressed the differences between current Arlington disciplinary action versus Civil Service procedure.  The Civil Service process is contained within Part 143 of the Texas Local Government Code.  Ms. Zepeda stated that the purpose of this section is for the employee to, “HAVE A JOB FOR LIFE.”  Personally I don’t agree with this concept and I believe that it is detrimental to the overall quality of the Arlington Fire Department.  Our Firefighters do a great job and service our community remarkably.  I don’t believe that it would be productive nor foster a healthy environment, to allow a bad apple to rot in our department when he/she should have been dismissed.

Ms. Zepeda went back 13 years and compiled the records of discipline between the previous Chief and the current Chief.  It was found that the current Chief’s record of discipline is 23% less than his predecessor.  It was also brought out that the Chief does not administer the discipline.  But a panel of Assistant Chiefs decides the level of punishment.  The Chief can only either agree or reduce the punishment.  Here again this shows the dysfunction of the Fire Union.   Council is tired of these misrepresentations of facts.

First it was the squad concept that the Union couldn’t handle.  But this concept has been adopted by Fire Departments throughout the United States and is considered the most efficient way to administer protection to our citizens.  Next it was “The Book” accusing the Chief of fiscal misconduct.  Council requested an audit that exonerated the Chief and pointed out that the utilization of overtime by the fire department was excessive.  The Chief reduced overtime from 35,000 hrs. to 6,000 hrs.. Then the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) complaint was made to Council.  Again another audit was preformed and recommendations were made and accomplished by the Chief.  Then because of a complaint of low morale, an independent survey was accomplished.  The Chief again made corrections and the Union ignored the results.  The Council brought up the Fire Fighter’s W-2 to be superior to other departments in the Metroplex.  I might add that a entry level (F1) Fire Fighter, 5 years out of high school, will make $77,000 as a base pay.  Now the Union wants to break away from the City and seek protection under the State’s Civil Service Laws.

The issue of Civil Service will be on the ballot in May of this year.  Personally I am tired of this Union’s whining like mistreated children.  They have a great job in the Best Big City in the South, with a great wage.  Grow Up.   I ask for a NO Vote On Civil Service!!!    Stop the JOBS FOR LIFE movement.

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