Minimum wage issue
So, how is everyone's departments handling the big minimum wage issue?
I have yet to hear much of anything out of our city, but the guys with the Local are working towards making sure everyone keeps their jobs. I've already heard of one department that's notified a couple of guys they may be getting laid off.
Just curious how others are getting along.
We are holding as is.......for now lol.
If you look at, they can either pay ***** loads of OT, or go to like 8 hour shifts, 40 hour week, no OT. But....they more than likely have to hire additional people to cover the shifts, like add 10-20% to the staffing numbers. So take those additional people, salary and benefits, and you will be paying more than the OT to keep the 56 hour week and half time. There was an article in the Post about it. They interviewed a Chief at Central Couty Fire (St. Peters) and they broke it down. I'll find it, stand by.......
I actually know this guys (columnist) kid, friend of my ex, he has a serious boner for FF's, and not in a good way lol.
Overtime law could cost firefighters big time
If you work a 40-hour week, you're probably glad to pick up an hour or two of overtime whenever it's available. However, if you're a union firefighter who makes more than $70,000 a year, the new Missouri law that makes overtime pay mandatory could end up costing you big bucks.
I asked Russ Mason, chief of Central Country Fire & Rescue and vice president of the Missouri Association of Fire Chiefs, to explain how it would work if his district went to eight-hour shifts and a 40-hour work week.
He said he prefered a political solution rather than changing the work schedules to comply with the new minimum wage law. He said the Missouri Senate tried to fix the problem by exempting firefighters and police officers from the voter-approved law, which took effect Jan. 1, but the fix never saw the light of day in the House.
The lawyers are offering legal opinions, and several districts are challenging the law in court
Ken Meadows, of the Cottleville Fire Protection District and business manager of Local 2665 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said his union was still working under the belief that the Federal Labor Standards Act makes firefighters exempt from 40-hour work-week standards.
"My hope is somebody will step up and take the lead on this," Mason said. "We're asking for the politicians to fix this so it's not a crisis for the cities and districts. We have a limited budget based on tax revenue."
To date, Mason said, Central County would have to pay an additional $220,000 in overtime under the new law.
Firefighters in Central County now work an average of 54 hours a week, without overtime pay, but they also have overtime built into their 24-hour schedules. Mason said that they got regular pay for 212 hours in a 28-day period and that two-thirds of them got an additional four hours of overtime pay. One shift of workers in that span gets 28 hours of scheduled overtime.
Central County, which serves St. Peters and parts of St. Charles County, paid firefighters an average of $71,662 last year including overtime and other benefits. Mason said the average pay per hour was about $19.
Do the math: If you make $19 an hour and work a 40-hour week, that's $760 a week, which comes to $39,520 a year. With the additional 14 hours a week of work at the regular rate of pay, plus the built-in overtime in their schedules and other benefits, the firefighters make an additional $32,142 a year. That's a lot of money on top of their hourly salary, so I can see why they want to avoid eight-hour shifts and 40-hour weeks.
Mason said that Central County had 66 firefighters and that an additional 25 would have to be hired if the district went to a traditional work week. Slicing $32,000 off the current annual salaries would provide more than enough money to pay the additional firefighters, but Mason said the district also would have to pay an additional $588,000 in benefits for the 25 new employees.
That comes to $23,520 annually in paid benefits for each new employee, and that also includes equipment and uniforms. I know firefighters have excellent health insurance, life insurance and retirement packages, but something seems out of whack there. The average cost for benefits for a teacher in the St. Charles School District is $5,600, not including retirement benefits.
Mason said that "we think we're providing a good level of service for the dollar" and that the current system was the most "cost effective" and the easiest to manage. He said scheduling training for the firefighters was more easily done with the 24-hour schedules.
I asked Meadows, the union guy, if he didn't find it just a tad ironic that a state law increasing the minimum wage and making overtime pay mandatory could actually cost the firefighters nearly half their annual salaries.
"I find it very ironic that fire districts could be forced into doing this, and yes, it could have a dramatic effect on us," he said. "But it also could have a dramatic effect on public safety and firefighters' safety as well. This is a huge public issue."
How taxpayer money is spent for fire protection services has been a huge public issue, as well, and I'm wondering if the Legislature inadvertently brought it back to the front burner. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
I asked at work for some more info, and was told that the city I work for is a "Charter" city.......
A charter city is a city in which the governing system can provide for any form of government, including mayor/city manager form of government.
The charter institutes its powers and authorities, compared to a General Law City, which has powers only approved by the State.
Its zoning ordinance does not have to be consistent with the city's General Plan
Becoming a charter city enables municipal governments to have more autonomy, including enabling them to fight unfunded programs mandated by the state Legislature. A charter city also does not have to comply with competitive bidding statutes, and can negotiate contracts on its own. It can establish salaries and benefits for council members and is not required to pay prevailing wages for municipal projects. A charter city can set its own processes for electing council members.
When enacted, a charter can only be adopted or changed by a majority vote of the city's residents. The council cannot establish a change on its own. The city would still be required to comply with many state laws, but could establish its own method for enacting ordinances.
An elected and strong Mayor can be the result of becoming a Charter City as opposed to a General Law City where the Mayor title is ceremonial only. An example of a Charter City is Sacramento, California I believe St. Louis is also a Charter City........
So, they said we aren't held to the laws of the State on matters like this, basically the city can opt not to follow the new laws. I'm still cornfused about it, but that's what I've been told, and there has been zero talk of it around the firehouse or city hall, so nobody seems to be concerned.........which could be good or bad lol.