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.  

13 comments:

  1. Thank you for your support for tax payers and those without outdated union entitlements. It's a cold real world out here. Firefighters, God love them, but they are not above the rest of us!

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  2. Vindictive... NICE!

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    1. Vindictive? I think not! We told you that there would not be a cherry picking session where you got to keep all the good things that the city has given you, while you enjoy permanent employment and sue the city at every turn. The Council and Mayor told you the truth about what you were doing and Your Union Lied. So now the reality of your actions kicks in and you call it vindictive. I call it facing reality. If you want you benefits to be like they were prior to Civil Service, then there is a process that the rank and file have to accomplish. It isn't easy and will take organization and dedication by the union members. But those are your options.

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  3. David Crow and the association leadership have done this to themselves. It is time to clean out some of AFD firefighters. AFD firefighters think they are not replaceable. Wrong!!! Everyone is replaceable. Let's start with the one currently under investigation!

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  4. 1. You still don't understand the military leave aspect of what the city provides in correlation to a FF's schedule. 180 hours is enough time IF a person works 8-5, not for a 24 hour schedule. 143 provides an opportunity for other FF's to donate time to bridge the gap to what the city does not cover. It wasn't a lie, folks had to burn vacation time to cover their commitment to their country.

    2. Every FF for 143 understood there would be retaliation, um excuse me, consequences to the implementation of 143 yet they still moved forward. The council did not, and still does not understand that it was their last hope in a dire situation. Fire Admin, City Admin, and council ignored the cry for help, so it took the citizens backing their FF's to send the message loud and clear. 143 was put in place for situations just like what you are doing to the FF's today. Cut all the benefits now, but you'll only do it once.

    3. About the only relevant question asked on Tuesday afternoon was from Councilman Shepard. (Paraphrasing) How will this affect the ability to recruit (and retain) FF's? Greatly should have been the answer. All eyes are on Arlington now. It doesn't take much effort to compare AFD's benefit package to other cities hiring now. Your neighbors to the West offer a much more competitive package with better salaries and ancillary benefits. So AFD will become a training ground for those to who aspire to work for a department that actually values their employees.

    4. Litigation could be avoided if City Admin and Fire Admin just does the right thing. Statements from the Fire Chief like 'we will keep doing business like we want until a judge says we can't' sure doesn't seem fiscally responsible to the taxpayers. That most certainly will invite litigation. And again, a huge reason why the FF's pushed for 143.

    Open your eyes and set aside your hatred for those that are dedicated to serving you even if you aren't dedicated to do right by them. You've been blinded by your lack of support in your efforts to stand behind a fire chief that is ruining what was a great department.

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    1. I printed your anonymous comment mainly because there is a level of understanding that you simply don’t possess, and I want to bring it forward to you without emotion or any bias. I will respond to each of your assertions separately:

      1. You still don't understand the military leave aspect of what the city provides in correlation to a FF's schedule. 180 hours is enough time IF a person works 8-5, not for a 24 hour schedule. 143 provides an opportunity for other FF's to donate time to bridge the gap to what the city does not cover. It wasn't a lie, folks had to burn vacation time to cover their commitment to their country.

      ----I understand this probably much better than you because I was a reservist for 9 years and had to deal with the loss in pay each time I went on my two/three weeks active duty. You seem to put stock in Part 143 concerning personal accounts where other employees can work and donate their pay for a shift into an account for the reservist. This is a no cost item to the city, that could have been instituted if it were ever a concern by your union. It was not, and never in the history of Meet and Confer was the topic ever brought up by the union E-board. The truth is that the city provided an extra 30 hrs. of pay to the reservist above and beyond part 143. That is only one illustration of the city telling the truth and the union leaders lying to the voters. Although the voters asked for our reservists to only get 150 hrs. (as per Part 143) I maintain that our men and women in uniform should not be harmed by unionism, so I requested that the taxpayers maintain 180 hrs. You are welcome!----

      2. Every FF for 143 understood there would be retaliation, um excuse me, consequences to the implementation of 143 yet they still moved forward. The council did not, and still does not understand that it was their last hope in a dire situation. Fire Admin, City Admin, and council ignored the cry for help, so it took the citizens backing their FF's to send the message loud and clear. 143 was put in place for situations just like what you are doing to the FF's today. Cut all the benefits now, but you'll only do it once.

      ---- Again I believe that you are mistaken because the Kool-Aide that Crow has fed you tastes so good. The Council is not retaliating, you just never understood what the “consequences” were to begin with. We all told you during the campaign that there would be no cherry picking of benefits. You have to understand that there is a city benefits package, and a state benefits package. You campaigned for the state package and what you now want is both and it isn’t going to happen with this council. What you have to realize is that in seeking the benefits of Part 143, you willingly gave up the benefits of the city package. The fire union has spoken and you got what you wanted. You have gained in some areas and lost in others.----

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  5. 3. About the only relevant question asked on Tuesday afternoon was from Councilman Shepard. (Paraphrasing) How will this affect the ability to recruit (and retain) FF's? Greatly should have been the answer. All eyes are on Arlington now. It doesn't take much effort to compare AFD's benefit package to other cities hiring now. Your neighbors to the West offer a much more competitive package with better salaries and ancillary benefits. So AFD will become a training ground for those to who aspire to work for a department that actually values their employees.

    ----“Actually values their employees.” Most employees of Arlington actually value their benefits packages, except for the Fire Fighters. I don’t think Mr. Crow would be well received in other departments of this city. Especially when he took the spousal insurance from them and a year later gave all that money up to buy civil service. We are currently hiring a new class. For the 10-30 positions that are open, there are 500 applicants trying to get hired in Arlington. What you have to consider is that Dallas can’t find applicants to join their department because there is no retirement available. Ft. Worth is going to be in the same position, if you would care to look into it. You have the same mentality of most millennials. I want everything and I want it now. You are like a two year old at the checkout counter of a grocery store. You want that candy bar and Mommy won’t let you have it, so you are going to throw a fit until you get what you want. There is no emotion on my part. You wanted 143 and that is what you will get. The bad part is because of another lie by Crow. The guys that didn’t want this are being hurt and for that I am sorry. Crow stated that over 90% were for this and we all know that it isn’t true, don’t we?----

    4. Litigation could be avoided if City Admin and Fire Admin just does the right thing. Statements from the Fire Chief like 'we will keep doing business like we want until a judge says we can't' sure doesn't seem fiscally responsible to the taxpayers. That most certainly will invite litigation. And again, a huge reason why the FF's pushed for 143.

    ---- Finally the truth comes out. Suing the city is what this is all about. We are going to keep operating as usual until Part 143 is instituted on Oct 30th. Then we are going to operate as usual and then hire, promote and discipline in accordance with Part 143. But what you want to do is sue us over everything. That’s fine, pay those lawyers. The city is going to hire a lawyer that does nothing but civil service work, and you are going to be paying for him/her out of the loss of your benefits. So in essence you will be paying all legal fees incurred by the city for your lawsuits. May I remind you that this is what you wanted.----



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  6. Open your eyes and set aside your hatred for those that are dedicated to serving you even if you aren't dedicated to do right by them. You've been blinded by your lack of support in your efforts to stand behind a fire chief that is ruining what was a great department.

    ---- Funny thing about pilots is that most have very good vision. You mistake my giving you Part 143 as hatred. You transfer your emotion to something that really doesn’t affect me at all. The election is water under the bridge. Now, comes the reality of what your actions caused. Do you really think that I hate you because you wanted state protection? Not even close! You gave up what you had and didn’t even do the homework to understand what you were giving up. You simply believed Crow instead. Look where that you. So don’t be mad at me. At a union meeting Crow stated that he had talked to all the Council members except me, and, “don’t worry your benefits are secure.” That would be eight more lies told by Crow. I knew he didn’t talk to Ms. Capehart because she was in the United Kingdom. I asked if anybody had been approached at Council dinner and nobody had. In short the people that supported changing to Part 143 have been sold a bill of goods by Crow. Now with Meet and Confer gone you don’t even have the means to negotiate a return of any of these benefits.----

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  7. What ever you take now will be returned . If not by you, but your replacement. We will not trade any portion of 143 for the benefits that we deserve and have earned. You were a member of a union that went on strike many many times to get all the benefits that you felt were deserved. Now you are against that one's that are doing the same . Hypocrite maybe??

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  8. You don't know the first thing about me. Please tell me the dates when I was on strike. The bottom line is Crow got you in this mess and you gave up all the benefits that you received from the city because you wanted civil service. Now you want them back. Well it isn't going to happen! You need a new E-board that can be reasoned with. Then and only then can you even hope to get any benefits at all. You don't even have Meet and Confer to try to negotiate any benefits, much less the ones that you lost with civil service. I hope you enjoy civil service because that is what you wanted and that is exactly what you are getting. Nothing More!!!

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  9. This is an Anonymous comment that was sent to me through the blog. I had to remove the last paragraph and will answer the question posted in the reply. I am posting this comment because it is truthful and honest and deserves an answer.


    I heard a wise man ask recently ask about the moral and ethical choices to eliminating benefits across the board versus the legal choices. It was a question brought up during a meeting initiated by the AFD Fire Chief on Sunday August 13. Many of your posts from this past weekend seem to align with the message the Chief conveyed during that meeting. One of the points made was regarding the E-board and a need for a new E-board. Chief Crowson conveyed that he was willing to work on behalf of the firefighters, and he would have a meeting with the E-board, if the members were present to keep the focus on issues pertaining to our Firefighters as a whole and not individual agendas. Firefighters showed up on short notice to assure this happened. Chief Crowson stated that he was willing to step across the podium for us as a bargaining agent, since the APFF and meet and confer negotiations were dissolved. We trusted in him and his sincerity. There are men who have served this city for 20-30 Plus years who are being forced to decide if they have to retire now because of a loss of benefits. Benefits that legally can be removed due to Civil Service 143. There has been a personal conflict of a few people on both sides throughout the last few years and a Civil Service Vote on the ballot was the culmination of that. Its time to move forward with new perspectives and attitudes. The accounts, actions and personal problems of a few people, on either side, should not dictate the future anymore. We do have a great innovative department with good people. When I hired in, Arlington was the premier department everyone wanted to work for. I would implore you to take into consideration the widespread, unintended affects on the members who have been dedicated to this department for their entire careers. Its time for change. Turn a leaf, Turn a cheek, either way, the time for a new direction and change is now for All parties involved (entrenched) into this nonsensical way of doing business. We are the premier department for Special Events regarding the Cowboys and Rangers. We have talented experienced members who have spent many hours training and gaining experience at these events. We have a deep pool of talent and experience that does not need to be compromised prematurely. We have all had loss and defeat during this entire process in one way or another. Lets come together again for the Big Picture. A Chief Crowson saying, that seems fitting at this time.

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    1. I truly believe every word that you have stated above. I believe that our fire department has dedicated people that want to serve the citizens of Arlington in a sincere and professional manner. That is the reason that the Council has treated you in the fashion that we have over the years. Then came the slap in the collective faces of Council with the election of Civil Service. We gave the fire department more raises than any other group of people in the city, and we bargained in good faith. All of that was thrown away with the bully tactics of certain firefighters in the department and the constant name calling and lies by your current E-board. I will "turn the cheek" but not to this current E-board. You were asked just yesterday to have your union go in another direction and you choose not to. So Council has to deal with the same people, and the same belligerence that got us in this situation. They are being rewarded by the rank and file. I personally will not waver from the implementation of part 143. To me that is the standard that was passed to me by the voters of Arlington. I understand that there are very good people that have served this city for 20-30 plus years. Those same people didn't stand up to the bullies at the fire house and now we have this mess. For right now I think your only hope is the Chief. Until a new E-board is elected, and a positive sense of direction is displayed by the rank and file, then civil service will be enacted as per the statute. I agree that this department was, at one point, the fire department to work at in the Metroplex. The reason that it isn't any more is because of a personal vendetta that Crow has against the Chief. The union has only dug their collective heels in deeper. I understand that the actions of a few shouldn't affect the department as a whole. But these are the actions of a Union that has been allowed to get out of control, and it is up to the rank and file to fix it, not the Council.

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  10. If anyone would like to contact me with anonymity please write to cpork@att.net

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