Charleston Firefighters threaten lawsuit over salaries - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Charleston Firefighters threaten lawsuit over salaries

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In a News 2 exclusive firefighter James Regan said he and his colleagues are ready to speak out in order to get fair compensation.

"I love my job," Regan insisted.

Although his claim is one that's been dodged by many in order to maintain job security. He said the department has lost its morale and a large amount of money in the last decade.

Regan claims the city uses a calculated formula in order to cheat each firefighter out of hundreds of dollars each month by adding incentive pay to their base salary before dividing by hours worked.

While the city said that would result in more money per check, Regan mapped out the equations (below) to show that without adding incentive pay to base salary the firefighters hourly wage wouldn't even meet minimum wage requirements on all overtime hours. Therefore, he claims the formula isn't done on accident and isn't done to their benefit but quite the opposite.

Fluctuating work weeks: Base pay / hours worked = regular rate* (*cannot be below $7.25)

Regular rate x 0.5 = overtime rate

Overtime rate x overtime hours = overtime compensation

Overtime compensation + base pay = wages

Standard work weeks: Base pay / hours worked = regular rate*

Regular rate x 1.5 = overtime rate

Overtime rate + base pay = wages

City Pay Plan: Base pay + incentive pay / hours worked = regular rate*

Regular Rate x 0.5 = overtime rate

Overtime rate + incentive pay + base = wages

"When the city says that they're (firefighters) making more than they would on the fluctuating workweek, well I still contend I'm not making what I'm supposed to be making. So even though you're paying me sort of what I'm supposed to be making I'm still making below minimum wage and that's the problem," Regan said.

According to the city that's not true. They refused to comment on camera or provide this years budget for those numbers. However, they did give me all the guidelines on how to pay a firefighter which detailed how incentive and overtime rates are calculated. While their calculation adds up Regan said it's still not right.

"We're always losing a days pay. Every time we do that we're always losing a days pay... these numbers are just too calculated" Regan said.

The calculations have been examined by attorneys who anticipate filing a suit sometime this week.

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