By Reg Jones
Q: I am a federal firefighter who works a 72-hour workweek. This is the required hours that I work. As a GS-8, Step 9, I make $83,658 per year. However, my “High Three” would be based off of the firefighter base pay of $73,906. I know that the difference is overtime. However, the overtime is part of the required hours for a firefighter’s tour of duty. My question is, why is our retirement not based on the higher pay? Seeing that this is what we are really paid and not the so-called base pay of 73,906. If a federal employee other than a firefighter made the same amount higher rate per year, their High Three would be based on that rate, not $10,000 less. Why are firefighters’ retirements not based on the pay they receive for their tour of duty. I believe we are being shortchanged in retirement. We are required to work more hours than most federal employees, and our pay reflects that. However, our retirement does not. Why?
A: All federal annuities are computed using an employee’s basic pay, the amount from which retirement deductions are taken. For most employees, basic pay is the figure found on the pay table for their grade, step, and geographic area. In a few cases, when provided for by law, certain other kinds of compensation are included in basic pay, and, when they are, retirement deductions are taken from that pay. With the exception of administratively uncontrollable overtime (AUO) paid to certain law enforcement officers, overtime isn’t included in basic pay.
June 27th, 2010 at 2:03 am
Check out HR3186. It is a proposal to change the law so we [federal firefighters] would recieve retirement pay based on our true pay. The reason it is calculated as so right now is because we [72/hr workers] do not actually make true GS pay. We make firefighter GS pay (which is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT). If you haven’t already seen the chart on dodfire.com, notice how 56/60 hour folks actually make true GS pay, then FF pay, then FF overtime pay; whereas the 72/hr workers make FF and FF overtime pay. Here’s the link to the bill that IAFF is supporting and lobbying for: http://www.iaff.org/politics/legislative/FedRetirementfactsheet.htm
Our dept all wrote letters to our representative and I suggest you do the same. We are trying to get AFGE in the mix as well.