War hits home — and the wallet | MassCops

War hits home — and the wallet

Discussion in 'Military News' started by kwflatbed, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed MassCops Angel Staff Member

    Firefighters, town spar over what’s owed to jake in Iraq

    Photo by Patrick Whittemore
    Stoughton firefighters hold up Doug Campbell’s turnout coat, above. In front are Pat Doherty and Ray Ward. In back are Lt. Greg Goldberg, Capt. Jim Bertram, Ian Kurtinitis and Capt. Scott Breen.

    Furious flag-waving firefighters are condemning Stoughton as the “Most Unpatriotic Town in America” for nickel and diming a local Air National Guardsman half a world away in Iraq.
    With hostilities at a flashpoint over what is owed Fire Capt. Doug Campbell, 45, while he’s on active duty, officials like Stoughton Veterans Agent Michael Pazyra are fighting back.
    “I totally disagree with their statement,” Pazyra said. “It’s just wrong because it’s not true.”

    Campbell’s brethren have been volunteering to cover his shifts since his deployment last month in order to keep his paychecks rolling in, but the town argues they wouldn’t have to if they’d drop demands that the divorced father of three also receive perks such as a dry-cleaning allowance and bonuses for not calling in sick.
    “It literally makes me crazy,” said Peter Denneno, president of Stoughton Firefighters Local 1512. “I was told by the town, ‘You’re looking greedy.’ I’ll take greedy any day if it helps a guy who’s overseas protecting his country.”
    Today at noon, town jakes and the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts will march on the VFW Hall at 837 Washington St. to rally support for Campbell, an 18-year veteran of the Stoughton Fire Department with a quarter-century’s service to the Guard.
    A stone’s throw from the fire station where Campbell’s turnout coat still hangs, Town Manager Mark Stankiewicz called the inflammatory stunt “a punch in the face” to officials willing to go above and beyond for Campbell, despite facing a $1.2 million budget deficit in Fiscal year 2009.
    Stankiewicz acknowledged Campbell is only getting paid when his shift is filled by another firefighter willing to forgo overtime. He is otherwise docked a vacation day. The manager explained that’s only because Campbell’s union refuses to sign off on the town’s offer to pay the approximately $15,914 difference between Campbell’s anticipated $47,086 in military pay if he’s deployed one year and his $63,000 base salary from the town, plus continued health coverage.
    State law only mandates that public employees in the armed forces be paid their salaries minus their military pay and not be penalized any time benefits they’ve accrued such as vacation days.
    Stankiewicz said firefighters want Campbell’s salary paid in full, his health care to continue and for him to receive more than $7,000 for such things as a clothing allowance, holiday pay and funds for firefighting equipment such as flashlights.
    “They’re not Simon Legree, but they’re like a lot of streets in Boston: one way,” Stankiewicz said of firefighters.
    Campbell’s sister, Debbie List, said her family is “a little disappointed” in Stoughton given that her brother “puts his life on the line for the town every day.”
    “We’re very proud of what he’s doing in Iraq,” she said. “We appreciate the fire department’s support. They’ve been wonderful.”

  2. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed MassCops Angel Staff Member

    Stoughton town leaders, fire union reach agreement over National Guard member

    By Kyle Alspach
    The Enterprise
    Posted Mar 15, 2008 @ 07:32 PM

    An agreement has been reached between the town fire union and town leaders over the compensation of a Stoughton firefighter who is on active military deployment in Iraq.
    Under the agreement, Capt. Douglas Campbell will be paid the difference between the base salary he receives from the town and his weekly military salary as a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.
    Campbell will also be allowed to receive health insurance from the town, and will keep his seniority benefits, which include longevity pay and vacation accrual.
    The agreement was reached over e-mail Thursday night.
    Both sides claim it was a victory for their side.
    Selectmen chairman Richard Levine said the compensation package is what the town has been offering all along.
    “This is basically exactly what we had proposed to (Campbell’s wife) back in December,” Levine said.
    The town will not be paying for a uniform allowance, cleaning allowance, EMT stipend, holiday pay or other costs that had been requested by the union, Levine said.
    But Peter Denneno, president of the Stoughton fire union, said the union prevailed because it doesn’t have to sign an agreement for Campbell to get pay compensation.
    The town had been requiring a signed agreement from the union, which would have been a violation of union rules, according to Denneno. The union can only sign agreements that affect every member, he said.
    “This was a policy they already had in place. All they had to do was enact it,” Denneno said.
    Firefighters will stop covering Campbell’s shifts as of next week, Denneno said.
    Firefighters had been working the shifts since January out of concern that Campbell would lose his pay from the town, Denneno said.
    It will cost the town about $4,000 to make up the difference in Campbell’s pay, until Campbell returns in June, Denneno said.
    Bad blood remains over the issue, though, as a result of a press conference the fire union held on Feb. 29. The event designated Stoughton the “Most Unpatriotic Town in America,” though Campbell says he only meant for it imply that Stoughton has the most unpatriotic town government.
    Levine said the press conference was “obnoxious” and that town leaders have demanded an apology.
    But Denneno said he won’t do it.
    “I have nothing to apologize for,” he said.


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