Indiana Central News
Terre Haute, Indiana
Terre Haute, Indiana
UPDATE 9/28/15--Terre Haute Fire Department Chief Jeff Fisher addressed the Board of Public Works and Safety regarding grievance hearings by two employees at the last meeting. He said the issues have been resolved after meeting with union officials and assistant chiefs of the deparment. No further action is needed by the board, he stated.
By Lucy Perry
The Terre Haute Board of Public Works and Safety heard a few complaints during a lengthy meeting held this afternoon in City Hall. Board member Cary Sparks, Secretary James Trimble and member Roland Shelton were present; Member Jon Stinson was not present.
Two Terre Haute Fire Department employees filed grievances for disciplinary action taken against them by Assistant Chief Robert Eberhardt. They both feel the process of the action was in violation of the Firefighter’s Union Bill of Rights and worry that it is part of their permanent records.
The union backs the firefighters, Zachary Beckner and Brenton Lloyd.
Both claimants say they were not spoken to about their alleged wrongdoings, but the action was taken against them nonetheless. The two were represented by union official Paul Chalos, vice president, as the hearings took place for each case at the end of the meeting.
Chalos said it is reasonable to be told what you’ve done wrong and the union holds the "administration accountable to discipline employees in the correct way."
The two separate grievances, heard today before the BPWS, allege that proper action was not taken when Eberhardt wrote Beckner and Lloyd up last month without explaining to them why, which they say is against union rules. The board will consider the allegations within 30 days.
“That’s just not right. That’s not reasonable,” Chalos said. “Reasonable people discuss things before they discipline. It’s reasonable. You need to know what you did wrong.” He pointed out that there are many variables involved and he believes it boils down to who you are when action is taken by department officials.
Ultimately, legal counsel for the city, Eddie Felling, indicated both instances were within daily operational standards for the department, as a supervisor can verbally reprimand and write up an employee as needed.
Lloyd said he was told a day after being written up for not completing a run report on time, and Beckner said he could’ve explained why a report wasn’t completed in a the required 24-hour time frame, if given the opportunity.
In other business:
A special meeting has been called for the BPWS for Thursday at 3:30 p.m. regarding a suspension of a towing business contract, following another complaint to the board.
Bob Durr of Durr’s Towing addressed the board regarding a letter he received Friday morning from Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse regarding his contract with the city being suspended for two weeks after the chief alleges overcharging by the company on a Saturday and Sunday.
“I immediately called the police chief to find out what was wrong,” he said. “He was gone, so I went to the gentleman who takes care of the towing, Mr. Loudermilk.”
Durr said no one can answer his questions.
Felling explained that the chief of police has the ability to suspend the contract and a hearing would need to be set within 15 days of the letter.
Meanwhile, Durr feels he should have had a chance to address the allegations before his business was halted for two weeks, leaving two employees without work.
“I’ve been in this business for 50 years; I’ve done it for the city for 20 years. I’ve had problems before, like anybody...I’ve never been kicked off for two weeks,” he said. “What happens if I’m not wrong? This is my livelihood. I have no other income. I’m in the towing business only -- and my employees have no other place to work.”
The board took the following action:
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News Writer: Lucy Perry