More questions for Ken Campbell – every answer is just another can of worms!

16 Dec

As I was saying in a previous blog, I recently been struggling through the city firefighters’ contracts, and I don’t mind saying, it’s all Greek to me. “Legalese,” I think it’s called. The worst thing is, they treat you like a moranus because you don’t understand the gobble-ty-gook they spin up just to make sure you don’t understand.

Here’s how they explain the pay rate in the current IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters, the union) contract:

Regular Hourly Rate

 1.2.5. Regular Hourly Rate. Regular Hourly Rate shall mean an hourly rate calculated by summing all non-overtime and non-out of class pay for the bi-weekly pay period, with the specific exception of Holiday Pay as defined in Section 2, Subsection 5.3.1, and dividing the total by 112 for Employees assigned to a fifty-six (56) hour work week, and by 80 for those employees assigned to a forty (40) hour work week.

As my friend Stephanie Taber said recently about the firefighters’ contract, “confused???? so am I!”   Stephanie is way more patient than I am, when she doesn’t understand these documents, she e-mails the appropriate department and asks the questions, then sticks around long enough to get an answer. 

In the letter I wrote to the editor, I asked about the 56 hour week – did that mean 16 hours of guaranteed overtime? Is that how some of these employees almost DOUBLE their salaries?   One person I saw on the salary charts had added $80,000 in OT to his $90,000 salary – and he’s not the only one who does that.  As I pointed out in my letter, the fire department alone bills for over a million dollars a year in overtime. I wonder, how do they do that? 

When Stephanie asked the human resources department about overtime, here was the response: “Under the terms of the IAFF MOU City firefighters get paid overtime for any hours they work in excess of 56 in a seven day period.”

Okay, now I’m confused. You can schedule people for 56 hours without paying them overtime? News to me. And, I still don’t understand, how do they rack up the overtime pay when they have to work over 56 hours a week to get  it? I mean, there’s not a house burning down or an accident every freaking minute. In fact, hours and hours go by, every day, when nothing justifying the use of gasoline even happens around here. 

I got a new question. Are we paying people to sleep? To watch tv? To take the hook and ladder to the grocery store? 

Human Resources offered more explanation: “In addition, under the terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act, they get paid overtime for any hours they work in excess of 182 in a 24 day period.  For the City of Chico this equates to an additional 5 hours of pay for each person every 24 day period.”

I keep seeing that word, “work”, and I keep wondering, “what do they mean by ‘work‘?” 

So I will keep asking my questions.

8 Responses to “More questions for Ken Campbell – every answer is just another can of worms!”

  1. CJ December 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Looks like they only work 8 days a month at 24 hrs per shift, thus get 32 hrs a month o.t. And can make bank the other 22-23 days. Not to forget they only work 8 hrs and then have 16 hrs of free time where they only need to be available to respond to calls. Must be nice to be a hero, especially in Chico.

    • Juanita Sumner December 17, 2012 at 6:46 am #

      Well, thank you so much for commenting. I guessed it was something like this, but I was just guessing, as usual. They won’t tell us, “yes, we get paid to sleep and watch tv.” They know they should feel guilty, and they know we don’t like paying them to lay on their asses. They don’t put out a fire a week. Their logs are full of stuff like “false alarm”, and then many times, they do clean-up. I watched them spend an entire morning clearing wet insulation out of the church across the street from my house when the sprinklers went off on a false alarm. Janitorial service, at $28/hour? And then there’s the ambulance chasing – that takes up the lion’s share of their logs. The ambulance companies DO NOT pay for this service. And then there’s training exercises – here’s something funny – volunteers are charged money for training, but the city employees GET PAID to train. That’s ridiculous.

      These tasks are make-work to justify the scheduling. We need to completely reorganize the fire department. It needs to be run like any other 24 hour business, and they need to get more volunteers in there. Volunteers, by the way, are paid, but only when they work – what a novel idea!

  2. Joe December 17, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Little birdie told me that a little political favoritism is going on. Since the election the fire department is now 100 percent staffed and during the time the whole city was taking pay cuts and suffering lay offs, the fire department received a substantial raise. They are complaining about measure J funding, yet they hire three new firefighters. Keep digging Juanita, you’re doing good.
    It sure pays for the fire department to politically endorse certain people.

    • Juanita Sumner December 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      Well, I must say, it’s Stephanie who is doing most of the digging here. She’s the one who has the patience to ask questions – I just bitch about stuff, I don’t always really understand it. But I’ll tell you what – in my experience as a snoop, it’s almost, about 99.9 percent of the time, WORSE THAN I EVER IMAGINED. Usually worse than I ever wanted to know!

      Hey, Ken! Where you hiding? What do you have to say to all this Buddy? Ken?

  3. Ken Campbell December 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    Oh I’m here Juanita, smiling as big as ever! I come and peek every few days when I feel like it. Like I said earlier, you’re my favorite! I learn something new every time I look at your blog. Pure entertainment!
    I suppose I should contact the city and see where our new firefighters are, and ask why I havent been recieving my free 32 hours of overtime a month, or my 16 hours of overtime a week…. I need to ask them which it is? Oh, and about the “substantial” raise we just got from the new council??? You know, because we supported them all! And where are all these lay offs the city is “suffering” from? It’s becoming more fantasy writing than fiction. I think Joe’s got himself a Mocking Bird!
    I’m not hiding Juanita, you give yourself too much credit… You know where I am when you really want the truth. Until then we will keep looking in to see what new stories your telling, then smile…

    P.S. I know its a small detail, but I’m not the IAFF President! Its all in the research huh old girl…

    Chickenshit Ken

    • Juanita Sumner December 20, 2012 at 6:29 am #

      You know, I at first I regretted taking the conversation to the “chickenshit” level, but then I realized, that’s about as far as it’s going to get – you have nothing constructive to offer!

      This is what we get for, how much? Didn’t you tell my husband and I that you make roughly $130,000 a year Ken? Oh my, such professionalism we get for $130,000 a year!

      I’d appreciate it if you’d come back with some explanation for the fire department overtime figures, some explanation as to why we have to pay your employee share of your pension and benefits, etc. But I won’t be holding my breath.

  4. Joe December 20, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Ken your arrogance is insulting. I remember the City laying off more than 17 positions, including 5 police officers as a result of their request to reduce costs, including concessions. Your department stuck to a 20 percent raise over a five year contract during this time. 20 percent is substantial, especially when everyone else was forced into pay cuts.
    As for the 16 hours issue,
    It was in regard to the 16 hours of free time during your 24 hr shift. Yes you have to be able to respond to calls, but you are allowed to sleep, exercise, shop, play video games, have family gatherings, birthday parties, work on your personal vehicles, and union contracts during your “free time.”
    And let’s not forget, looking at your pay, benefits, and contract incentives, your department appears to be the “best overall” compensated department city wide. Looks like Taber should start to focus on your department.

    • Juanita Sumner December 20, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      Thanks Joe, for that clarification. Thanks for trying to help us understand, instead of trying to obfuscate everything, like Ken is trying to do.

      I won’t forget the night Ken got chewed out for admittedly spreading false information about the closure of Station 5.

      I think we are onto something with the “employee’s share” discussion, and that’s going to be my focus.

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