Most city management employees will lose the ability to enter the Deferred Retirement Option Program, known as DROP, when the new financial year starts July 1.

But San Diego Fire Rescue Department brass will still be able to participate in DROP because city officials wanted to maintain an incentive for firefighters to take management jobs, mayoral spokeswoman Rachel Laing said.

Laing noted that rank-and-file firefighters work 24-hour shifts 10 days a month. To become management, they have to shift to a traditional five-day 40-hour week. Laing said they may not earn more pay because they can no longer earn overtime as managers.

“We have had several deputy chiefs leave and wanted to have incentives to keep the management that is [there] in place,” she said.

There are only 10 employees who are unclassified fire safety managers, Laing said, out of 678 unclassified employees budgeted for the upcoming fiscal year. Unclassified employees are not represented by a union and have their compensation determined by the mayor and City Council.

Rank-and-file firefighters can still participate in DROP. But the city and union agreed to restart negotiations if a court finds that DROP is not a vested benefit and is subject to the bargaining process.


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