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.