Following a six-year battle with the Department of the Navy – and after confirmation by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) – the Federal Firefighters of Hawaii Local F-263 has received $614,636.18 in back pay and legal fees.
Local F-263 President Reid Shimabukuro describes this victory as a “landmark decision for federal locals.”
In August 2010, the Federal Fire Department at Navy Region Hawaii hired 11 Health Aide and Technicians (job series 0640) and placed them in fire stations to work along side federal fire fighters (job series 0081). These newly hired employees worked the same hours as their fire fighter counterparts. Fire fighters in the federal sector are governed by the Federal Firefighter Pay Reform Act, which pays fire fighters for 38 hours of (in tour) overtime in a bi-weekly pay period. The pay reform does not apply to the 0640s.
In January 2011, the union filed the Class grievance on behalf of all 11 series 0640 employees, hired Labor Attorney Peter Trask and took the position that these employees were not classified as “0081 fire fighters” and, therefore, should be paid overtime for all time after eight hours in a day, 40 hours in a week.
The Department of the Navy spent the next three years researching the merits of the case. After this delay, the case ultimately ended up in arbitration in October 2014. In December 2014, Arbitrator Walter Benavitz decided on the case and awarded the class of employees back pay for three years.
The Department of the Navy and the Federal Fire Department failed to comply with Arbitrator Benavitz’s award and decision, forcing the union to file an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) against Navy Region Hawaii (Department of the Navy) for failing to comply with the arbitration order.
The FLRA investigated the ULP and found sufficient evidence to file a charge against the Department of the Navy. The union filed a subsequent ULP against the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) for alleged interference in the back pay award.
In July 2016, the FLRA, Local F-263, Department of the Navy Southwest Region and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service all agreed to the amount owed to each employee and a date by which each employee will receive their back pay.
Local F-263 reports that the Department of the Navy has since paid the union $67,303.64 in legal fees and more than $547,000.00 in back pay, plus interest, to all 11 employees.
President Shimabukuro says, “Unfortunately, this is just one of several pending arbitrations against the Department of the Navy still to be decided, but we are relieved that this case is now behind us.” Local F-263 and the Department of the Navy are scheduled to begin arbitration over reduced staffing in the months ahead.