Firefighters looking to get repaid on damages for inadequate holiday pay

WTAP News @ 11 - Firefighters looking to get repaid on damages for inadequate holiday pay
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 6:30 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - International Association for Firefighters Local 91 president and Parkersburg firefighter, Lt. Brandon Brown says that the city has paid the firefighters incorrectly on holidays for decades.

“The city was splitting our shift. Whereas everything we do is in a 24-hour increment,” says Brown.

For the longest time, instead of being paid for time-and-a-half – or 36 hours – as other city employees are, some firefighters were paid 16 or even eight hours of straight time.

However, Wood County judge J.D. Beane ruled in favor of the firefighters on December 12th for adequate holiday pay and back pay.

Now, the firefighters are looking for damages to be paid in the next hearing.

“I mean, all it is, is five years back pay for those holidays with the holidays figured at 24 hours each for every firefighter. Whether they’re on duty or off duty. And basically, it’s just the total sum of those numbers. And not only that, but whenever the city has been paying us down that should’ve been paid at time-and-a-half rather than paying us at straight time. Which they have been doing. So, those numbers will be figured in as well,” says Brown.

Brown says that once the firefighters get everything situated with these hearings, it will not only be more momentum for other firefighters in West Virginia seeking adequate holiday pay but will help with keeping firefighters and recruiting.

“We’re having a difficult time getting people to actually take our tests and apply to become firemen,” says Brown. “And with this ruling, it just makes that benefit package a little bit better to where you’re getting paid correctly to where we can kind of use that as a recruitment tool as well.”

We reached out to city officials for comment and heard nothing back.