We apologize for what seems like a lack of information with regards to the furlough. Unfortunately there has not been any action until we started “discussing” it last Friday. The Garrison requested an exemption for operations but we have not heard anything back as of yet.
OPM had released guidance last month that showed how to calculate “uncommon tours” with regards to the furlough. This calculation had resulted in 72/144 hr employees being reduced by 28.8 hrs. On Friday of last week (08 March), OPM released updated guidance. While it shows we should not be reduced to 28 hours, it does not give any guidance on how to fairly calculate the reduction in hours.
“In the case of employees with an uncommon tour of duty, such as firefighters and paramedics, agencies should consider the impact that a furlough has on regular pay (in percentage terms), rather than the impact on hours (in percentage terms). An uncommon tour of duty is a tour of duty in excess of 80 hours in a biweekly pay period that is established for the purpose of charging leave. Thus, it includes overtime hours for which an employee receives regular overtime pay or standby duty premium pay. (See definition of “uncommon tour of duty” in 5 CFR 630.201 and 630.210.) Generally, for employees on an uncommon tour of duty, furlough hours will reduce regular pay by a greater percentage than the percentage reduction in hours. In connection with the furlough of employees with an uncommon tour of duty, agencies should consider whether or not the number of furlough hours should be set in a manner that achieves the same percentage pay reduction experienced by full-time employees with an 80-hour biweekly tour of duty who are covered by the same furlough policy”.
President Yauger, Vice President Rothfritz, Secretary Rondeau, and I, have been in negotiations since Friday regarding this very serious matter. The Unions stance as of right now, is our reduction should be based on our “base” pay, as is the typical 40/80 hour employee. This stance would reduce 56/112, 60/120, and 72/144 hr personnel by 16 hours a pay period instead of 28. That is the guidance we have received from the International and will remain so unless something has changed. The Fire Chief is 100% with us in this belief and has been behind us since we went to him with the proposal.
Please understand that this is only a proposal and if the Garrison does not agree then further steps will be taken.
We are the last Union on Fort Drum to negotiate this issue. Ours is not as cut and dry because of the uncommon tour but rest assured that we will go until the last minute to get what is best for our Union members. We have heard that other bases have successfully negotiated 16hrs recently but we need concrete info to bring forward. If anyone has any firsthand knowledge of bases going this route, please contact them.
I will have a post established on the message board regarding the furlough. If anyone has any questions, feel free to post them there. With this route we may be able to answer many questions at one.
We ask you to please be patient during this stressful time. We will try to get the information out as soon as it’s available.