A few days ago a very nice young man came to my door as a volunteer for the Fire Union’s effort to get Civil Service passed on the May ballot. Although he was very nice and considerate, he had very little knowledge of the subject he was trying to promote. So let’s go to the web page and see what the Union is saying:
“A Yes Vote for Prop 2 puts in place objective, measurable standards for hiring and promotions. No special treatment for anyone. No special deal for friends. Hiring and promotions will be based upon WHAT you know, not WHO you know.” Actually hiring will be based on one thing only, the results of a written test! That’s right, it doesn’t care what type of person you may be, it only cares about a number on a piece of paper. Ft. Worth and Dallas became participants in Civil Service in the 1940’s. The fire department has evolved into something that is much more diverse today than it was then. The first sentence of Part 143 states its obvious intent. (The purpose of this chapter is to secure efficient fire and police departments composed of capable personnel who are free from political influence and who have permanent employment tenure as public servants.) That’s right it seeks permanent employment!! So this fair hiring that the union wants doesn’t take into consideration the type of person you are, and then gives you a job for life. Total BS! Nobody deserves a job for life.
“Prop 2 is NOT about pay: The City has dramatically cut overtime. That is good for all of us as taxpayers, but make no mistake, it put a big hole in the budget of most firefighter families. Civil Service does not change that”. What do you know, a true statement. Currently a firefighter (F1) fresh out of high school with 5 years of service under his belt will be paid $77,400 a year. The union published a book requesting $15,000,000 in overtime in a five year period. Well I put a stop to that. Chief Don Crowson (who the union is trying to remove) lowered overtime from 35,000 hours to 6,000 hrs. He has been Nationally Recognized for his innovative approach to managing his department and making a difference in his community. He has received the American Medical Association’s Nathan Davis Award for his forward thinking. He does a great job and we are privileged to have him as our Fire Chief. Do you think the union likes him for cutting overtime? If overtime wasn’t an issue the union wouldn't even bring it up.
“Prop 2 is NOT about benefits: Recently, the City cut medical benefits for spouses and families. Now, firefighters and their families bear that cost. This saves taxpayer money, but again, civil service has no impact on firefighter benefits”. What the union will not say is that all city spouses (who could get insurance elsewhere) were removed from insurance because of THEM! That’s right! All city staff received a 4% raise, but that wasn’t good enough for the Fire Union. They wanted MORE! So to give the Union MORE, money had to be found elsewhere in the budget. So the fire department received 5.5% where the rest of the city staff received 4%. That’s the reason that the spouses were removed.
“Prop 2 is NOT about pensions: Arlington Firefighters have the same retirement benefit as all City of Arlington employees. Arlington’s pension is one of the most sound and stable in the country. Civil Service does not change that”. Arlington employees have a good stable pension plan that is currently funded at 85%. Not like the Dallas and Ft. Worth pensions that are in jeopardy. That is thanks to the city’s sound fiscal policy, and nothing to do with the Unions within the city.
One of the things that the Union has a problem with is discipline. They don’t like it and state that discipline under Chief Crowson is onerous and discriminating . So the city staff looked into these allegations also. They looked at discipline over 6 years of the current Chief and 6 years under the previous Chief. They found that Chief Crowson had 26% less disciplinary actions than did the previous Chief. So here is another false claim by the Fire Union.
Let me sum up. This is a ploy by the Fire Union for Permanent Employment, terrible hiring practices, and limited disciplinary guidelines. We have a great Fire Department so don’t change it. VOTE NO ON PROP 2 GIVING PERMANENT EMPLOYMENT TO FIRE FIGHTERS.