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Texas firefighters disputing change in overtime rules

Contract disputes can be complicated. The city of Fort Worth, Texas, made a policy change to overtime rules that directly affect firefighters and now, the Fort Worth Professional Firefighters Association is suing the city saying that the city made this change without notifying the firefighters association.

The city made the policy change in January 2009 which took away paid time-and-a-half for a firefighter. Before the change, a firefighter could take time off of for sick or vacation leave during the week and still get paid for it. It was a benefit that was more generous than the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards. The association's dispute is that this policy change took place in January 2009, but their new collective bargaining agreement wasn't reached until 2010. The firefighters believe that the city should have bargained in good faith.

There are 21 firefighters that are affected by this pay change during this timeframe and they are suing the city to get the overtime pay that they feel they deserve. According to Jim Tate, the president of the Fort Worth chapter of the Texas State Association of Firefighters, "The suit basically says that the city of Fort Worth committed an unfair labor practice. This was for an approximate 15-month period and only affected 21 firefighters in the Fire Alarm Office, so there won't be a lot of back-pay involved."

City officials are not commenting on the suit. The firefighters association also hopes to seek an injunction preventing the city from making these types of unilateral changes in the future that violate the Fire and Police Employee Relations Act.

Source: FireFighting News,Fort Worth Firefighters Sue City In Overtime Dispute," March 31, 2012

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