I-Team Follow-Up: Battle Creek back pay
Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 01:09 AM EDT
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - In a Newschannel 3 I-Team investigation, we revealed that after months of investigation, the Department of Labor found the City of Battle Creek owes its firefighters hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The controversy surrounds two years of inappropriately paid overtime.
But union leaders contend that the city owes even more than that, and that if the city doesn't make it right, it's in for a fight.
Union leaders have also told Newschannel 3 they have started the grievance process, and beyond union action, Battle Creek could be opening itself up to a class-action lawsuit by any and all of its employees who have been compensated incorrectly.
Leaders in multiple city departments have told Newschannel 3 that they believe the city could be on the hook for $1 to $2 million in back pay before the investigation and its fallout are through.
But City Manager Ken Tsuchiyama disagrees, and says that the payout won't be anywhere near that.
"The union went to the city several years ago, to make them aware of the violations. We tried to address some of the issues through the negotiation process." said Captain Chris Love, the Union President with Battle Creek Fire.
Love says that negotiations failed and now the grievances "are able to reach back much farther than what D.O.L. mandates."
He also claims that the union informed the city that the issue has been going on since 1989.
Thanks to the Department of Labor's finding, Love says, Battle Creek Fire can now file for breach of contract, which may entitle the department to six years of back pay--three times as much as the city is on the hook for right now.
In the midst of all of this, the Battle Creek City Commission is being asked to pass the 2013-14 budget, which includes across the board raises for all salaried employees.
Multiple commissioners have already said they will not pass any budget before all of the results of the labor department investigation are in.