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Bloomington Firefighters To Receive $235,000 In Back Pay
Updated November 23, 2016 1:26 PM
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(BLOOMINGTON) - Nearly all of Bloomington's firefighters and some recent retirees will be receiving a combined total of $235,000 in retroactive overtime wages.

The Herald Times reports those payments follow a change in the overtime payment structure after it became clear the city no longer could use what's known as the "fluctuating workweek" method. That method puts workers with fluctuating hours, such as firefighters, on a salary that pays them a weekly rate whether they work 40 hours or not in a week. In that system, overtime is not paid at 1.5 times the hourly rate, but at half the hourly rate to take into account the weeks when there is full compensation for less than a full complement of hours.

That method had been negotiated into contracts and been in use for several decades, according to city officials.

"Legal rulings have clarified the fluctuated workweek calculation method can only be used in certain circumstances," city Corporation Counsel Philippa Guthrie said during a news conference Monday afternoon, adding that Bloomington's fire department does not meet the requirements to use that method.

Comptroller Jeff Underwood said the question about the way overtime pay was handled in regard to federal guidelines came up in his office and was reviewed by the legal department. No lawsuits or legal complaints were filed, and there was no legal requirement to provide back pay, officials said.

With a new structure implemented, firefighters now will be receiving the correct overtime wages. The new pay method includes looking at how many hours firefighters work during a 28-day period, rather than week by week, to determine whether they qualify for overtime pay.

Firefighters will receive adjusted wages to account for having been underpaid during the past two years.

That move will affect 112 firefighters, some of whom have retired, with payments ranging from $85 to about $5,000.

And the new system will mean corrected overtime wage rules for 103 firefighters, though it won't affect those in leadership positions such as chief and battalion chief.

Bloomington firefighter Bob Loviscek, who is president of the local chapter of the Professional Firefighters Union of Indiana, said Monday's announcement was welcome news to the union.

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