Menlo Park firefighters sue: overtime, travel


Surprised is how Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District said he felt upon learning that the district's firefighters had filed a lawsuit in federal court on July 15.

The issues, said John Wurdinger, president of the Menlo Park Firefighters Association, are whether firefighters should be paid for traveling to and from their home stations to pick up equipment such as personalized protective gear and emergency medical kits, and how much they should be paid for overtime.

Chief Schapelhouman would not talk specifically about the district's position. "I was perplexed because we've been having a dialogue," he said. "There was no indication that it was not satisfactory or adequate, nothing that said, 'I can't agree with you and we're going to do X.'"

Firefighters have been complaining about the issues since September in connection with the district's decision last year to pay by the hour instead of by salary, Wurdinger said. The firefighters predicted the change would open up the district to liability on pay-related issues, he said.

Menlo Park firefighters have been consulting with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) in Washington, D.C. The IAFF has offered to take this case pro bono, an indication that its attorneys think they will prevail, Wurdinger said, adding that he is hoping to settle out of court.

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Like this comment
Posted by danos
a resident of another community
on Jul 21, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Unbelievable. They already make massive salaries with huge benefits, and now they're complaining about a bit of overtime? The firefighters in this area are out of control...

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 21, 2010 at 5:09 pm

This is simply another example of a superb group of public employees who suffer from incredibly bad union leadership - the MPFPD union, the Palo Alto firefighters' union and the Menlo Park unions.

This horrible leadership is taking their unions down the road to ruin and is destroying the trust and respect which their members have earned.

Like this comment
Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 22, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I was a public schooil teacher in this area, After school hours I took my own car, burned the gasoline, and went to libraries to get DVD's and CD's to use in class and purchase supplies .I did not have an expense account or get 'overtime'. I bought supplies with my own money totaling up to $1K a year. I stayed up to midnight doing lesson plans or projects and making things for class (I had my own children also to care for). And weekends doing report cards - in some districts they are at least ten pages for elementary grades!! I went to conferences on my own time on weekends..THESE FIREMAN want overtime to pick up their equipment??? Every school day, every minute I WAS ON DUTY. I did not grocery shop on duty time at Safeway,play cards or watch TV. When I retired I got NO health insurance.. Give me a break!!

Like this comment
Posted by retiredfirefighter
a resident of another community
on Jul 22, 2010 at 7:50 pm

There has been friction between the firefighter's union and administration ever since the new admin services director was hired.

Here is the union's stance: Web Link

They have been trying to get the admin director fired ever since she got hired in 2007, but have been unsuccessful.

Here's the other side with the director's accomplishments:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Teacher Too
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 23, 2010 at 9:10 am

I was a teacher, and I worked those long hours as well. But I always fought for working folk being paid for extra work they were required to do, and being paid fairly.

It's funny how you don't hear Atherton residents complain about gigantic bonuses paid to the financial geniuses who brought us this current economic disaster, but somehow they're ready to cut the compensation for those who risk their lives to keep us safe.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 23, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Teacher Too states:"somehow they're ready to cut the compensation for those who risk their lives to keep us safe."

This is not about cutting compensation of firefighters who are already very well paid but simply not paying them extra to show up prepared to work like everyone else is required to do. Are nurses or doctors or military personnel or bus drivers or airplane pilots paid to get dressed for their work -no.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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