August 22, 2014

Mostly sunny

Avon, firefighters union still at odds over time off

AVON — Firefighters are asking for more time off and to eliminate the cap on sick leave during collective bargaining negotiations with the city.

The International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4310 rejected a fact-finder’s report last week after a hearing on Nov. 25 between city officials and the union. The fact-finder sided with the union on a number of issues, including eliminating a cap on the accumulation of sick leave, but did not agree to lowering the hours that shift employees work per week or to award them 3 percent pay raises for each year of a proposed three-year contract, as proposed by the union.

According to the report published Wednesday by the State Employee Relations Board, the union emphasized that its goal was to increase time off for shift employees. The union contends that comparable fire departments provide 28 tours of duty off per year, while the city of Avon provides 23.

The union also proposed raising floating holidays from three to four, saying that there has been an increase in the number of emergency runs required of shift employees as the population of the city grows.

The fact-finder sided with the city, however, in an effort to limit costs and maintain adequate staffing levels. The report proposed increasing the tours of duty from four to five off per year but increasing the hours of work per week to 52 hours from 51.7 over a 28-day work period.

The union, however, proposed a 48-hour work week within a 21-day period. The union said lowering the hours worked would lower overtime costs, as well as allow more free time for bargaining unit members.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the city is held to a 53-hour work week, requiring premium pay for overtime hours worked in excess of 212 hours over a 28-day work period, according to a report.

The fact-finder sided with the union on eliminating the cap on the accumulation of sick leave — the report notes that the firefighters union was the only one in Avon to have such a cap — but proposed decreasing the amount of unused sick time that can be cashed in each year.

A spokesperson for the International Association of Fire Fighters did not return a call for comment on the negotiations on Monday.

Sandy Conley, an attorney for the city of Avon, said she was not allowed to comment on the negotiations, but she said, generally, when fact-finder’s reports are rejected, the two sides would go into a conciliation meeting.

The current collective bargaining agreement, which expired Dec. 31, remains in effect.

The fact-finder’s report rejected 3 percent annual increases as sought by the firefighters and instead recommended 2 percent wage increases for each of the three years of the new contract, extending into 2016. The recommendation was made after taking into consideration proposals from both sides.

With a 2 percent wage increase this year, Avon firefighters with one to three years experience would earn $62,128 to $68,873, respectively.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    Getting paid for unused sick time is stealing from the taxpayers.

  • formerlorainresident

    Agree with Larry, sick time is intended to be used when sick, not as a savings account.

    I am familar with the Avon Lake policy which is below:

    “A full-time employee who is qualified shall receive t!fty percent (50%) of his accumulated sick leave credit up to a maximum of one hundred twenty (120) days.”

    This is what they receive when they leave their job.

    From earlier this summer:

    Ralph Conte, 39, who was hired in 2005, is being investigated for allegedly working for another fire department while receiving sick pay from the North Ridgeville Fire Department.

    This is theft.

  • bigmacky

    bite my butt – ever since 9/11 the fire depts have decided that their place in society has replaced God and that they DESERVE more cash! – bite me

  • stop ur whining

    Just another union doing more harm than good. Fire Fighters in almost all municipalities rape their citizens. They for starters BARELY work. How many fires last year? They spend their days at the fire house and then commonly switch shifts to maximize their OT. Elyria has always been over budget bc of this. An annual raise? What is that? Raises are EARNED, not handed out because of longevity. $60,000k and you do not need an college education…Want to know your problem America? There it is.

    • Sarah Abfall

      I generally do not respond to any comments on here but felt that this deserved a response. For starters- How dare you. ‘Firefighters rape their citizens’. ‘They barely work’. Those are statements that are BEYOND belief. Do you have any idea what they deal with on a daily basis? How would you like to come home from a days work knowing you lost a little girl in a car accident and couldn’t save her- her face will haunt you forever. Or when you leave your home in the morning and kiss your husband or wife goodbye that one bad call could end it all? Do you know what that’s like? Obviously not.
      In my opinion they should be paid more. What do you do for a living? What do you make? Can you say that every shift you work is a shift that your life might be forfeit for another’s?
      And so that you know. Avon fire department requires you to have all of your firefighting certifications (which require class time and training ) up to your 240 cert AS WELL AS a Paramedic certification which takes 2 years of full time study and ride time (which you can only take if you have already taken your Basic life saving courses and EMT basic certification course).
      Please think and research before opening your mouth again. You disgrace yourself with your lack of knowledge.

      • stop ur whining

        Paid more!!! how many calls did they make last year? How many fires? How many terrible accidents? Spare me. Cops put their life on the line EVERYDAY, not just somedays and you do not see them over budget, you do not see them demanding more.

        AS for your education requirements that are supposed to blow my mind…they do not. I was an EMT, what a joke. Never met a bigger group of stoners in my life.

        Fact is that if you want 60k plus. Get a big boy degree and work harder. Do not just sit idle by and let someone give it to you because you have worked there a while.

        Finally, i notice that you did not even touch on switching shifts and collecting max O.T. My guess, you married a lzy fireman and heaven forbid you do not get that extra money for scamming the system.

        Fact is sarah, i am more educated on this particular topic than i would care to be.

        • Sarah Abfall

          Its really quite sad that you so hateful. My point had nothing to do with the benefits that the firemen receive and more to do with the fact that you were making such obscene comments. I would say that in any line of work you have people asking for more, not just firemen. I would imagine that cops do as well- and yes I agree that they also put their lives on the line everyday as well.
          You can share your opinion without being cruel. Yes, I am married to a fireman. But he doesn’t collect a salary for it. He is a volunteer. He does it because he enjoys it and he genuinely wants to help people. So please forgo the insults to my family since you know nothing about us.
          I ask that you not make blanket statement comments about people. EMTs are stoners and Firemen are lazy? You sure seem to have it out for the safety and emergency services workers.
          And I would point out that you still did not mention what YOU do and why you feel that you are so educated on this topic.

          • BITTERCLINGER36

            Sorry, firefighters are typically not risking their lives on a daily basis even when there is a fire. There are lots of people see traumatic things at work such as police, emt’s, tow truck drivers, nurses, doctors, coroner’s crew, soldiers, crime scene clean up crews, etc. Firemen are not special, and very few employees public or private are getting raises around here, why are firefighters and teachers always deemed special? I think the last fireman to have a line of duty death was a few years ago in Wellington, when a brave man drowned during a rescue attempt. Ask your spouse why can’t firefighters work 5-8 hour shifts for forty a week like the cops do? Why do they feel entitled to built in overtime always, Boo freaking hoo they have to stay trained, you act is if they are not PAID to go to training and keep their certs…..I would wager that they rig it so their training time is at time and a half too……waaa, I have to stay certified to keep my job that requires certifications…….really, that is a complaint? Debutantes.

          • Sarah Abfall

            Really- Do you know for certain that they aren’t typically risking their lives? Or are you speculating? How much do you really think you know? Did you also know that firefighters don’t work shifts the same as cops? They work 24hrs on and then have 48hrs off typically. So I wouldn’t say that firemen ‘cant’ work 5-8hr shifts.
            No one is saying that they are any more ‘special’ than anyone else. If you read my comment previously, you would know that all I ask for is respect for ANYONE doing a public safety job- cop, emt, medic, fireman, etc. And also as I said before- my spouse is a volunteer. So he has no shift. He is on-call 24/7 on top of his ‘day job’

          • Simon Jester

            Conflict of interest ring any bells, Sarah?

            “Public Safety” employees aren’t some noble class of selfless individuals, selflessly sacrificing for the greater good. They’re a well ( generally over) paid bunch of .gov employees, that are friggin’ pros at gaming the system. Nothing more. Deal with it.

          • BITTERCLINGER36

            Yes, I do know for certain they don’t typically risk their lives on a daily basis. That does not mean it does not occur, rather, it is not typical even at a residential fire. Chemical plants, the mill, or going in a structure to rescue someone, etc. are without a doubt extremely dangerous…..those aren’t typical though. If they did work more normal shifts there would be no built in OT. There would obviously be times OT would be required, but it would not be built in. I did miss the volunteer part, my comments are directed to full time civil service types.

      • Pablo Jones

        A worker in a 7/11 or gas station has a greater chance of losing their life on a daily basis. Should they be paid $60,000 a year?

        Firefighters do get certified and go through additional training, that is why they do make $60,000 or more on average.

        Think about this we always hear we don’t have enough police or firefighters. Well if they didn’t get raises every year there would be enough money to hire additional people. And for those that say if we don’t pay them enough we won’t have any qualified people, every time they go to hire people hundreds of people apply.

      • Summer Smart

        Firefighters not only receive too much money but their training is paid for on the back of the residents as well, so tack that on to their earnings, sick time, vacation time, holidays, floating holidays, etc. Everyone knows how entitled firemen are; most likely you are a wife or have someone related to you that is a fireman. Those of us on the outside know what they really do and who they really are….you are just a benefactor of this somehow and don’t want it taken from you…get over yourself.

  • danofamherst

    I believe the fire department has just shown they have a passion other than serving the residents and by doing so show they are too costly.