Oklahoma City Firefighters are getting paid time and half for their personal time off. Some think it's fair, but those who don't will soon be able to vote against it.
When the City of Oklahoma City and firefighters couldn't reach a contract agreement, a judge made the decision and sided with firefighters. But instead of accepting the arbitrator’s decision, the city decided Tuesday to put the dispute up for a vote among citizens.
At issue is the clause in the firefighter’s contracts that pays them time and half for vacation or personal time that’s been accrued. The city says it can no longer afford to pay that wage.
“I think that the situation where we’ve paid firefighters for time not worked. It’s time for that to stop,” said OKC Assistant City Manager M.T. Berry.
The city will pay $100,000 to hold a citywide election on January 10 to vote on the matter.
“We are actually shocked and little disappointed in the city,” said Firefighter Union President Scott Van Horn.
Van Horn says the time and half stipulation is necessary because firefighters have unconventional schedules that rob them of potential overtime earnings.
“The city doesn’t want to put us on a 40-hour work week. It would cost them a lot of money,” said Van Horn, who claims the tradeoff is the time and half wage.
Other contract talk disagreements center around firefighter insurance rates and how to turn 18 firefighter dispatch jobs into civilian ones.