Federal Fire Fighters of Hawaii Members Victorious in Overtime Case

February 12 • 2015
After a four-year fight over fair compensation between the U.S. Navy (Region Hawaii) and Federal Fire Fighters of Hawaii Local F-263, an arbitrator has ruled in favor of Local F-263. The Navy has been ordered to adjust the pay of 11 health technicians (sometimes referred to as Emergency Medical Technicians) to reflect “true overtime” retroactive to December 2010.

“The arbitrator in this case handed down a fair and just decision,” says IAFF 16th District Vice President Jim Johnson. “Our members work hard to ensure the safety of the military personnel and visitors of the Naval Station Pearl Harbor. Their hours can be long and they deserve to be properly compensated.”

“Our members have been waiting a long time and are very pleased with the final results,” says Local F-263 President Reid Shimabukuro.

After completing the 22-week recruit program, 11 health technicians were hired under a 0640 employee classification, and then scheduled to work at the Federal Fire Department Paramedic Division at Pearl Harbor for a 72-hour work week.

However, employees under the 0640 series classification are subject to overtime pay as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires that employees who work in excess of 40 hours in any given week be paid overtime at a rate of time-and-a-half. Accordingly, the health technicians should have been paid for 32 hours of overtime.

When they were not properly compensated for the overtime, Local F-263 President Reid Shimabukuro began asking questions. The Navy contended that the technicians were not eligible for overtime as they were receiving “standby pay.”

Local F-263 disagreed. “The FLSA does not recognize standby duty,” explains Shimabukuro. “An employee is either on or off duty.”

In January 2011, Local F-263 field a 1st Step Class Grievance, stating that these 11 employees were owed overtime for each additional hour worked after completing 40 hours. The grievance was denied.

Local F-263 subsequently filed a 2nd Class Grievance, which eventually led to arbitration proceedings. The positive arbitration ruling was handed down in December 2014. Since the Navy has elected not to appeal the decision, backpay checks are expected soon.

Since the time of the filing of the grievance, three of the health technicians have left for other employment and six have been reclassified as 0081 employees – fire fighters typically classified as 0081 employees and subject to a different compensation rules.

The remaining two have yet to be reclassified because they exceed the Navy’s age requirements and need an age waiver. The waivers have been submitted, but are still pending.

Still, Local F-263 estimates that these members will still receive a total of $350,000 in back pay as a result of this ruling.