DALLAS, Texas — The City of Dallas said it's working to resolve issues related to the calculation of overtime for some Dallas Fire-Rescue members after the Dallas Fire Fighters Association brought to the City's attention that hundreds within the department haven't been paid owed overtime for December 2021 and January 2022.
During that timeframe, specifically in late December, the COVID-19 omicron variant was a massive hurdle staffing-wise for the department.
WFAA reported that firefighters were voluntarily working overtime. Some were even mandated to work beyond their regular hours to ensure fire stations and engines were fully-staffed after numerous infections within the department.
"We were 100% staffed through the whole thing, and many guys are proud of that," DFFA President Jim McDade said. "The surge hit, and infections just exploded. There were 200-plus guys off every day who tested positive."
But months after the surge, McDade told WFAA that many firefighters haven't been paid the overtime they're owed for stepping up and ensuring the department was fully staffed.
"Hundreds of firefighters are affected, and it's tens of thousands of dollars owed to us," McDade said.
Before December of 2021, McDade said it was city policy to cancel out any sick leave taken for COVID-19 with overtime hours accrued by firefighters within a typical 28-day, 212-hour pay period.
In December, the City did away with that policy. Instead, a firefighter's overtime wasn’t impacted if they got sick with the virus.
However, the City still operated its payroll as if the old policy was in place for December and January, per McDade.
The issue was brought to the City's attention by DFFA in February and everything was resolved.
But, McDade told WFAA that firefighters are still waiting on overtime pay for those two months. Specifically, firefighters who did get sick, got better, then stepped up and filled in for others infected – accruing large amounts of overtime pay.
McDade said their overtime was docked or canceled out when it shouldn't have been. He added that the City hasn't created a process or avenue for firefighters to claim that they haven't been paid.
The city manager's office told WFAA, "... any outstanding overtime will be paid."
But McDade said he's tired of waiting.
"The City of Dallas is jerking around its firefighters," McDade said. "We don't need it in another month or two weeks, or another three months; we need it now."