Firefighting, Legal

Baltimore Mayor Proposes Change to 24-Hour Shift Schedule

The possibility of changing the Baltimore City (MD) firefighter schedule has lingered for almost two years but has now come to a head with a proposal from the mayor’s office, reports WBAL TV 11.

After a number of closed-door meetings, union officials and the city have not been able to agree, and it appears an arbitrator will have to make the ultimate decision.

As part of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s 10-year financial plan for the city, firefighters will have a change to their hours and cut their overtime.

The city has been talking to the fire unions for about the past 18 months about switching to a 24-hour shift instead of the 10- and 14-hour shifts that currently exist.

According to the mayor’s office, Baltimore firefighters average about 42 hours a week, and 19 of the 25 largest U.S. cities average a longer workweek than that with a median of 52 hours for all the cities. Clack said switching to a 24-hour system — 24 hours on, two days off, then another 24 hours on — is a win-win.

“Instead of coming in 182 days a year, they come in 121 times a year. So, there’s less commuting. We can afford to give them a significant raise as well as save the city some money,” Baltimore City Fire Chief James Clack said.

That raise — in fiscal year 2014 — would consist of a 2 percent cost-of-living hike and a 10.5 percent raise in conjunction with the new schedule — saving the city an estimated $4 million a year in overtime.

Firefighters union members who spoke anonymously told 11 News there are issues concerning overtime and fatigue, and that other city employees should be held to the same schedule if firefighters are held to this new shift schedule.

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