SLO to pay $55,000 settlement for firefighter dispute

July 12, 2018

In order to settle a heated dispute with firefighters pertaining to overtime compensation, the city of San Luis Obispo is set to pay a total of more than $55,000, most of which will go toward legal costs. [Cal Coast Times]

Relations between the city of SLO and its firefighters union “have been strained for some time,” a current city staff report states. More recently, in late 2016, some firefighters sued the city in federal court over the calculation of overtime payments.

The lawsuit alleges the city failed to include cash in lieu of health insurance in the regular rate of pay when calculating overtime compensation, thus underpaying firefighters. Last month, the city and the firefighters reached a settlement in the court case.

As part of the settlement, the city agreed to pay approximately $3,000 combined to the plaintiffs over a three-year period for miscalculating overtime payments. The settlement also calls for the city to pay $39,650 to cover the plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees, as well as $12,799 to cover expenses the fire union incurred by hiring experts to review overtime compensation.

City officials say reaching a settlement in the case was prioritized because legal costs could rapidly escalate and dwarf the amount of money owed to firefighters for miscalculated overtime compensation.

Next Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo City Council is slated to approve the settlement. But, the settlement does not only consist of a resolution to the lawsuit.

The city and its firefighters have agreed to resolve a host of issues, some of which also relate to overtime compensation. As a budgeting approach, city officials favor reducing the amount of overtime firefighters work, and instead, bringing on new fire personnel to help handle the workload.

In addition to settling the lawsuit, a comprehensive settlement agreement between the city and its firefighters also includes a three-year successor memorandum of understanding. The MOU between the city and its fire union grants firefighters cost of living adjustments, or raises, of 1 percent in 2018, 2 percent in 2019 and 2 percent in 2020. Members of the firefighters union, however, must increase their contributions to city pension costs.

Furthermore, the settlement states the city will hire one additional firefighter per shift available in order to cover routine absences. Lastly, the settlement states fire battalion chiefs are not eligible for overtime under the Federal Labor Standards Act.

The settlement comes at a time in which the city is faced with an $8.9 million budget shortfall over the next three years,  largely because of rising pension costs. The city council will meat at 4:30 p.m. on July 17 to discuss the settlement.

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What a joke rukidding and George. I know Callahan, he goes to my church. He does make a lot of money, because he’s at work for 100 hours a week. I’d hope they’d pay you that much too if you put in that much time. And last time I checked, SLO cops are good people who are forced to protect a bunch of college kids getting hammered downtown, because that’s the demographic of this community. Meanwhile, SLO firemen are busy spending most of their time responding to geriatrics at retirement homes 20 times a day. Let’s see you do that at 4AM 5 times a week like your boy Calllahan. I’m sure it’d get old. I like my sleep, lay off the guys who work for you and make a few bucks. I’m sure they’ll just roll in the money during their retirement, with bad backs from lifting 300lb transients.

legal disputes between government entities and we pay all of it. There is something wrong with this situation.


Although I am glad that SLO has settled this case, and we can all respect firefighters in the work that they do as first responders, I am also a little tired of their incessant whining about every little thing.

I went to Transparent California, and looked up a SLO City firefighter, and, guess what? The firefighter I researched, I guy by the name of Callahan, makes $196,000-a-year!

When is enough, enough?

Btw, I totally agree with the comment by Horse Soldier regarding the family od Arroyo Grande City Councilperson Kristen Barneich. Some people get on the government bandwagon, and they never get off!


Check Transparent California and you will find that fire fighters are usually the most highly paid individuals in a city. As an example in Atascadero they usually rank the top 15 out of 20 with a few making more than the city manager. Mostly they are active for 4-5 months out of the year during fire season. For most of the other time they are working out, watching tv, shopping for dinner and then getting a good night sleep. So I guess there is time for whining and complaining. But let’s not forget our policeman who are actually working 24/7/365 and protecting our firemen while they are watching a good movie on tv before they go to bed and dream about what other benefits they can get.

Don’t forget our military, the real heroes who serve out of love for country, not love of bank account and bigger toys.

50k to figure out that these employees were being under paid by $3000 collectively is ridiculous. I don’t blame the firefighters, I’m sure anyone would want to be paid what they’re supposed to… I blame the city. Why on earth does everything have to be a battle with outside legal personnel netting most of the winnings. What if the city simply said: oops, our fault, we’ll get that fixed. Instead, they fight everything and we all lose. If they’re getting a raise and paying more into their pension, it sounds like it’s not a raise at all? I don’t know. It’s hard to hate on these people when they work to protect us in a community where you can’t buy a house for less than $800,000 and they’re building giant hotels left and right. I only see the workload increasing.

Simply put a horrific cost to the tax payers of SLO because there was a simple misunderstanding between the prima donna fire fighters and the city attorney. This appears to have been something so simple that a simple little time on the computer to determine the cost and obtaining an outside legal opinion because the city attorney is about to strike out. So now we end up with a declared enormous cost for the firefighters at $54,449. Then we have that 5% pay raise over the next couple of years. Then on top of that 3 additional firefighters will be hired at around $525,000 a year based on a total compensation package of $175,000 per fire fighter. What a deal for the city staff being so incompetent and the firefighters being greedy.

But what they have forgot to tell you is the enormous use and cost of time the staff put in. We always hear about this when the public brings something to the city. Don’t forget it’s getting close to election time and it appears the swamp in SLO is rapidly filling. It needs to be drained before the overflow and complete decay of SLO as it has been known for years. If they aren’t careful they may even scare their bed partners away, the tourist.

This is a great example of the cost of our legal system which supports the benefit of a dictatorship. Why do public employees need a labor union? There are plenty of other protections, paying for grievances from the general fund could result in no road repairs.

Cash in lieu of health insurance, this must be why Council member Kristen Barneich in Arroyo Grande has the city pay for her family’s health insurance. It allows her husband to be paid a higher rate.

Win, win for the Barneich family. Lose, lose for the taxpayers.