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Friday, February 22, 2008

And the beating continues

You can only take a beating for so long before one of two things happens, you fight back or you are beaten to death.

I think that most employees of Roanoke City are nearing a concussion.

This week the City tried to roll out a new voluntary insurance plan. Unfortunately for us they dropped the AFLAC program. WTF?

I remember taking my own time to fill out a survey not too long ago about various voluntary insurance, health care, child care, pet insurance, etc. Really it was all kinds of stuff. Fluff more like it. Some of the stuff was just plain absurd. However, I don't remember anything about the City dropping our AFLAC.

At the time of the survey, there were many attempts to make sure a large portion of firefighters filled out the survey. Guess what. The FD had the largest percentage out of any other department in the City.

This is a voluntary insurance plan with several different options. The plans are used by countless City employees including a large percentage of Roanoke's Firefighters. After all, Firefighters have an increased chance of getting nearly every kind of cancer.

Guess what. Poof, it is gone. On top of that, the City then turned around and just gave our information out to another company...again.

Let me be extremely serious for a minute. What the hell is going on?

I know that some of you boot lickers are probably saying "Rhett, Rhett, Rhett, why don't you just leave it alone. It is for the better. They are looking out for us. Promotions are coming up. I don't like the blog. You hurt my feelings. Leave them alone. Boo Hoo Hoo."

The truth is that I am vested. This is my job, my career, my life. I don't appreciate being treated like this. Nor should you. I love my job. I love being a firefighter. I bring up these issues to make it better, to make people aware, and to help my fellow brother.

Everyday the rules change.
Everyday we lose something else.
Everyday something costs more.
Everyday we have to spend less.
Everyday the call volume increases.
Everyday there is something more they want from us.
Everyday we perform at our best. Lives depend on it.
Everyday we work, we leave our families with the understanding that one of us might not come home.

Lest I remind everyone about the Core Values of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department
You can view the entire Mission, Vision, and Values here.
The core values are below. They are all important, however the ones outlined are the ones which seem neglected.


* The employees of this department are our most valuable resource. Only through them will our mission be accomplished.
* The residents and visitors of Roanoke are our customers. We will constantly strive to provide them with the highest quality of service possible. We will consider every customer contact an opportunity to demonstrate our mission and values.
* Employee and customer safety will affect our approach to the services we provide.
* We uphold a philosophy of participative management that involves employees in issues that affect them, encourages open dialog, teamwork, trust and shares ideas among employees and management.
* We will maintain department integrity and longevity through fiscally sound and proactive planning and budgeting.
* Through research and development, visioning and creativity, we will constantly strive for better ways to fulfill our mission to serve our customers.
* We will promote the attributes of leadership, service, pride and respect in a secure, diverse workplace.


Anonymous said...

You are right to draw attention to these issues.
The city has no sense of ethics and certainly does not value employees. Is it really legal to give out our personel information to a 3rd party. I don't think so. Not to insurance salesmen or united way.
If one of us had done it, someone would be fired.
OK, let me switch sides now... How about city administrators give me their social security numbers. I promise to look after their welfare. Trust me. ha

Most of our budget is salaries. If cuts are imposed, where will it be? We're top heavy, the cuts should start there, but no, it will be on the firefighters.

It seems like every cycle there is more crap from downtown; from our administration or from city hall.

The FF's need to unite but won't. Gbo ran this dept. into the ground and created a cut throat atmosphere of me me me. They reward suck ups and blackball anyone that isn't one.
Afterall, that's how they got their jobs, that's all they know.
Thanks Gbo.
They have shown what they value, and it's not professionalism or dedication. Those who speak out stand alone and will meet retaliation.
None of our issues will improve until the FF's band together.
With our leadership, arrogance and ignorance walk hand in hand at our expense.
One last question, what's next?

Anonymous said...

fleitz 4 mayor?

Anonymous said...

I have never commented before, but now its time... The City has gone to far by providing our protected private information without consent. They even try to justify their actions by saying its consistent with the practices of the business community of other localities.. What a LOAD of CRAP!!!! Everyone of us needs to make a phone call or better yet EMAIL Keli Greer the Director of H. R. copy Chief Hoback, let them know we are angry and this is unacceptable. If we dont stand up, each one of us and let them know they will continue. The Union has our backs, but what Rodney continues to hear from the CITY is, If this is such a problem why havent we gotten complaints from the employees? Dont wait for the UNION...Its time for us to do some of the work.... MAKE PHONE CALLS... SEND EMAILS..... Just think... EMPOWER GUY just got a CREDIT CARD with YOUR SOCIAL and BIRTH DATE!!!!!!!Kathryn Edwards 14-B

Anonymous said...

Rhett, iam not sure i understand about this insurance deal... Did the city give your personal info out, only if you signed up for this insurance. or has my info been passed out even though i did not sign up for any new insurance? and if so who do i contact about this.. SMutter

FireFleitz said...

From what I understand, the new insurance company, which offers more or less the same stuff as AFLAC, was given everyones information so that they could sign us up.

In an email from yesterday, they were asked to erase it. Yeah right.

Anonymous said...

seems like an odd way to look out for our best interest when they blind side us with something like this! If this does bother people that your info is free to anyone, than why dont everyone show up at the next union meeting and get our thoughts together. I know everyone needs to do our part, but with numbers is the only way downtown will even open their ears. I guess w/ it being promotional testing time the usual 10 people will be there, but seriously people, how far will we let them go?
Rhett, I commend you on the way you keep us informed with all the info for those of us that are not that tuned in. If it wasnt for your site so much would be missed and many would believe this is the department of old. I know downtown does not like your site, but it does no good if we do not stick together. Thank You

Anonymous said...

I hear the same thing Rhett, Empower was given everyone's personal information and not just Fire-EMS.. We are talking about 2200 employees... Liberty Mutual was offered the same info by the city but refused to take it because it was a liability.

A note about EMPOWER, from what we found they are not reputable, lots of problems about paying claims...

AFLAC has a great reputation...I have not heard of any problems and They have not had a rate increase in 22 years...

The Union is trying to work something out so we can keep what we have by going thru the Union and possibably the credit union...

Dont be quick to drop your AFLAC Brothers and Sisters, wait for the UNION they are working for us. Give them a week or two, you may be surprised......


Anonymous said...

I hear, someone said, they told me......enough! If someone has a name and a fact post it. When I go to a person and voice my concern, I want more than Anonymous said it on the internet. Please just the facts, thank you. Now I will know what door to knock on and be justified in holding them accountable. Sometimes they can hide behind us running around accusing the wrong people and label us trouble makers. Remember the story of the bull and his son looking down the hill at the cows? Lets get em' all.

Anonymous said...

The city may be in big trouble.

Online I found the following and I have contacted an attorney.

“May a third party creditor ask my employer for my social security number?”

Sure, they may ask all they want, but your employer would be violating any number of legal obligations if they gave out any information about you. An employer may generally confirm whether you currently or previously worked at a company, but HR departments seldom answer anything beyond that, because it’s asking for trouble. Providing any other information about an employee, unless they are under some legal obligation to do so (such as for tax reporting, insurance/worker’s comp claims, responding to lawsuits, etc.), runs afouls of many state employee protection laws, federal laws relating to financial and healthcare privacy, and may also be a violation of the commitments made in documents such as employee handbooks.

If you have reason to believe your employer has been giving out personal information about you, you should contact an attorney in your area who specializes in employee rights matters. Contact your local county or state Bar Association and ask them for a referral to someone skilled in your area.

Al said...

I have no idea about this issue from a legal point of view but it does puzzle me that a group would be unwilling to speak out in their own behalf, such as at City Council, out of fear of the consequences and YET willing to take on the city in a legal battle. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with that picture? My view is that only the lawyers tend to win in these situations. I was part of a suit agains the city. $72,000 and a year later and "we" got no where. (BTW, the Peakwood Drive suit was said to have had a tab of over $250,000 and those people LOST.) No one will do it for free and it's not likley the kind of action which would be taken on a contingency basis. And don't forget the buddy buddy legal system including the judges, meaning you would likely have to go out of the area to find someone willing to hammer on them without fearing the consequences of his associates and setting judges. Go in for your initial consultation...which would probably be free and very brief...and he'll tell you you may have a case, come back with a $40,000 retainer. 40 grand goes real fast at $300 per hour. But hey, get yourselves 100 to 150 men/women to chip in $500 and get the lawyer a new BWM!

Anonymous said...

Not only do they have our information,but those of you on the family plan....Thay got your wife or husband and kid's too!

Anonymous said...

When is will it be enough to get everyone together, even the boot lickers? Let's see:

Retaliation for speaking out.

Two junk Quints that are past their usefulness halfway through their expected life. (TOLD YOU SO!)

A six million dollar station with no parking.

Insurance increases wiping out our raise.

Ladder companies running the HTR truck with no ladder capability.

Cut our budget by $460,000, then give a developer $880,000 in the same week.

Giving our personal information out.

Punishment for violating old rules, unwritten rules and general lack of defined sop's.(E-mail,memo, sop? Which one is a standard?)

City council members spending half of a firefighter's yearly salary on travel and lunch?

Had enough yet? If not, just wait I am sure there will be more.

Just a thought on the money given to the developer,If those condiminiums ever catch fire, I hope we don't need a ladder truck to reach it,because we could have bought a badly needed one with the money they gave away. You would think essential services like fire and police would take precedence over developing real estate.

Al said...

That's a rather long list of reasons to get off yer butts and do something. Was it better last year? How about 2 or three yers ago?? Maybe 5 years ago? So what will it be like in 2 or three more. I'll offer a guess if YOU people don't act. Your responsibility for public safety clearly does not just start when the bell rings. Who will be responsible when you are not able to answer the call? City manager? City Council? Sure! But where exactly are you in the mix of responsible parties?

Anonymous said...

If the city truely wants to "enhance" our benefits and allow the employee
more "flexibility" with our benefit package then why don't they work toward reducing our healtcare insurance. How much of a benefit would it be to every employee of the city if the monthly cost was reduced by 1/3 to 1/2. How much money would that put in your pocket or your kids future? How about reducing the insane deductible on the plan. How much of a benefit would that be? The city needs to stop worrying about giving me another option on auto insurance and work on a plan that puts money back in the individuals pockets. The way I see it is that we pay 2 entities for health coverage...the city and Anthem. There are better plans and packages available to a municipality than what we have. Just look at Carilion's policy...much better and less expensive. I switched to the "HMO" plan to help reduce the cost, however this has done nothing but increased the rates. The increases are always blamed on a high cost for claims by the employees and it is often implied that the medical costs incurred are not necessary. I will agree that in some very isolated cases this may be so, however how many fellow employees do you know that go to the doctor for nothing?
When you say cancer insurance what is the first thing that comes to your mind?....the duck! The most trusted name in the business...I am sure they are not perfect, but I have not ever heard anyone complain about them. I will be glad to take my money out of payroll deduction and keep paying for AFLAC on my own or if the union figures another way great. I know nothing of this other company and from the information I am hearing I don't care to find out. I want to see our benefits get better instead of backsliding.
We sit here everyday collecting 2.1% while other localities are getting 2.8 @ 25 years full retirement. I just had a conversation this weekend with a medic from Arlington with 20 yrs, he makes over $100,000 per year and his retirement kicks the crap out of ours. Oh yeah, the cost of living is unlivable guess what...he lives an hour away where the cost of living is the same or less than here. Would you drive an hour for $100,000 a year to do this job? Hell Yeah...I would too.
Lets get this crap fixed so we can live our lives without having to kill ourselves with 2 or 3 jobs. And as for the nay sayers who like to comment that we firemen live beyond our means...BS...everyone does...and if you notice, the ones usually making these comments make 80+k a year...some over 100k.

Enuff said!!!
The One who has fallen from Grace

Al said...

A spirited comment for sure! But just wondering. When you say "let's get this crap fixed" a few questions come to mind.

First. Who is the "us" that will fix it?

Second. What specifically will "they" do to fix it?

Third. When will it be done?

The Dowe situation has gotten worse for him (better for you). There are other situations out there that need to come to light, don' you think?

I'm done folks. It all up to you. Will we see you are City Council next time?

Anonymous said...


First: all city employees,and the RFFA(memebers)
Second: start looking for better insurance and competitive rates and benefits
Third: your guess is as good as mine...but as stated so well in the main post...the employees are the most valuable resource...the city should start believing it, not just saying it.

Thanks for the response and for helping to clarify the issues.