The Austin City Council is set to review a new contract between the city and firefighters later this week. The new agreement changes, among other things, the way overtime is paid to the city’s firefighters. The agreement comes on the heels of a recent report that found overtime for the Austin Fire Department had increased 147 percent between 2014 and 2016.
According to Austin Firefighters Association president Bob Nicks, the new contract is a “maintenance-level contract,” that also addresses some recent concerns raised by the City Council. Key to the new agreement is a provision that no longer counts vacation time as hours worked for determining overtime eligibility. This provision alone is estimated to save the city as much as $1 million per year in reduced overtime costs. Additionally, the new contract provides incentives for firefighters that do not use sick or vacation time.
This story is a good example of how a collective bargaining agreement can provide greater, or more enhanced benefits than required by the FLSA. Here, the firefighter’s previous labor contract included vacation hours utilized by firefighters when determining overtime eligibility. However, under the FLSA these vacation hours do not need to be counted towards maximum hours to determine overtime eligibility. Because of this newly negotiated agreement the city will save an estimated $1 million per year in overtime.
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