Sunday, November 7, 2010

Analysis Reveals "Troubling" Trend that Points to Sick Time Abuse by Easton Fire Fighters

Posted by: Noel Jones

Christopher Baxter of The Morning Call reports that the City of Easton's investigation of the Easton Fire Department, with regard to misuse of sick time, has turned up "troubling" results, according to Glenn Steckman, City Administrator. Abuse of sick time has been referenced in recent articles in both the Express-Times and The Morning Call as potentially having caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay waste for taxpayers, in the midst of the worst recession our country has seen since the Great Depression. 


Anonymous said...

I can't believe some of the comments by their union president, no wonder they are having trouble with the administration. I follow what's been happening in the city and I am very impressed with the mayor of your town. He is making positive changes and taxes aren't going up. More oversight of thee types of issues protects taxpayers. Public employees have good salaries and excellent benefits --- they should stop whining and be happy.

noel jones said...

I agree Anon--the mayor and the city administrator, Glenn Steckmann, have been going over the budget with a fine-toothed comb, cutting waste, finding unused funds, and cracking down on abuse--as a taxpayer, I really appreciate that.

Firemen are real live heroes and deserve good pay and benefits, but being heroes doesn't entitle them to cause the struggling taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year so that they can abuse sick days to take longer vacations, forcing us to pay other firemen overtime to cover them, rather than regular wages.

What's strange to me is the union rep reacting to the city as if examining sick time use is audacious and inappropriate, when it says right in their contract that the city has the right to do it--and thankfully so--otherwise the taxpayers would continue to get screwed because of unnecessary overtime.

Anonymous said...

It's kind of a zero sum game where no one ever wins.

Unfortunately, the firefighters accused in the article have a dilemma. They can either admit to what their sickness was which is an absolute invasion of their privacy. Or, keep their mouths shut and be assumed to be guilty.

I don't think the firefighters cheated. If they cheated then they would be guilty of defrauding the city. What may be more difficult, is that a firefighter, who would falsely call in sick, puts his fellow firefighter and his community at risk. Termination and prison would be the only acceptable punishments. But, I don't think any of our firefighters would not be that selfish to think less of my safety and the safety of their brothers to cheat on sick leave.

The discussion of one's motives for calling out sick belong behind closed doors and not on the front pages of the newspaper. I would prefer to read about legitimate discipline being given and not left with considerable suspicion. It does not do the community or the firefighters any good.

By the way, in the first described instance where the firefighter used three sick days to be away from work for sixty-five days, we need to examine all of our leave policies. If the firefighter would have not been sick, he still would have been away for sixty- three days. Something just does not seem right about all of this leave time.

noel jones said...

I was thinking the same thing about the 65 days--that's over two months off--we the taxpayers have to pay someone over time every day for over two months?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the thing I don't understand is this bonus overtime that the firefighters get every week because they work 24 on and 48 off or average of 60 hours per week. The labor department says that you have to get overtime after 50 hours. They apparently get the overtime for hours worked or vacation days or holidays or personal days. But, they lose the overtime when they call in sick and the overtime goes to the replacement. I don't really understand what is going on.

noel jones said...

Anon 5:21--the structures seems nonsensical to me too--why should anyone be on shift for 48 hours? Why not have a more normal schedule that doesn't cost the taxpayers so much overtime pay?