Arlington

Arlington firefighters sue city over civil service rules

As the deadline for Fire Department unionization draws near, attempts to resolve issues between the city and the firefighters association have failed.
As the deadline for Fire Department unionization draws near, attempts to resolve issues between the city and the firefighters association have failed. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

Upset over the way the city rolled out civil service rules last fall, the union representing Arlington firefighters has now turned to the courts.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Tarrant County, the Arlington Professional Firefighters sued the city and named Fire Chief Don Crowson, city human resources director Kari Jo Zika and members of the city's Civil Service Commission as defendants.

The lawsuit contends that the city set up a new set of rules for promotions that deprived firefighters of deserved increases in rank and pay.

Firefighters won a civil service election in May that many city officials opposed. As civil service rules were put into place last fall, the firefighters association was unhappy with the way it was done.

The lawsuit includes four firefighters as plaintiffs whom the union believes were the next in line to be promoted before the existing promotion lists were nullified on Oct. 4.

The firefighters are asking a judge to issue a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction barring the defendants from conducting a Feb. 12 exam to determine promotions and from filling vacancies using any promotional eligibility lists created since Oct. 4 "until those promotional eligibility lists are exhausted or naturally expire, and otherwise preserving the status quo pending resolution of this lawsuit."

The lawsuit also asks a judge to order defendants to pay back pay and benefits to plaintiffs and "those promoted pursuant to this lawsuit."

In a statement late Tuesday afternoon, the city said that it was aware of the lawsuit and that the action "was not unexpected."

The city also took issue with assertions in the lawsuit that the Fire Department is understaffed during some shifts.

"Staffing levels at all 17 fire stations across Arlington can periodically fluctuate based on a host of factors, but all are adequately staffed and equipped to handle the city’s emergency needs and ensure the safety of Arlington residents," the statement from city spokesman Jay Warren said.



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