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Edgerton firefighter gives up job: Reasons for retirement unclear

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Stacy Vogel
December 27, 2007
— After years of fighting to get his job back, one Edgerton Fire Protection District employee has given it up.

Ken Crandall announced his retirement from the district Dec. 14, just 12 days after he and two other men were reinstated as full-time employees.


Crandall didn’t give any notice before his retirement or offer any reasons for it, said Jim Linsley, chairman of the district commission. Patrick Kilbane, Crandall’s union representative, said Crandall retired because of job conflicts and job security issues.


Crandall did not return a call for comment.


Crandall, Arnie Lund and Mark Backes had been fighting for more than four years to get their jobs back with the district after losing them in June 2003.


The district said it cut the jobs because of budget concerns, but the men said they were fired for joining a union.


In August, an appeals court upheld a ruling by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission ordering the men reinstated with back pay. The Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to hear the case in November.


On Nov. 14, the district commission announced the employees would be reinstated effective Dec. 2.


So far, the district has left Crandall’s shifts vacant, Linsley said. The open shifts haven’t affected the fire department because the employees haven’t been doing much anyway, he said. They haven’t been allowed to drive the trucks or respond to fires because their training is out of date.


“With the restrictions on what they can actually perform down there, it’s kind of a moot point to even have them there now,” he said.


In his letter, Crandall said he will continue to allow Kilbane, local representative for the International Association of Firefighters, to negotiate back pay issues.


The WERC ruling said the employees were entitled to back pay minus money they made in the past four years that they wouldn’t have earned if they’d been working for the district. The district and union haven’t yet agreed how much that is.


Crandall tried for a couple of weeks to work at the fire district and keep his job at Amtec Corp., a company that makes weapons-related products for the military, Kilbane said. But he found he couldn’t keep both jobs and was unwilling to give up a secure job for the uncertainty of the fire district.


“I’m sure that job security and questions with job security played a role in his decision to leave (the fire district) and continue with the job he’s got now,” Kilbane said.


Crandall gave no indication his decision was related to the atmosphere at the fire station, Kilbane said.


In fact, all three employees have told Kilbane they’ve been treated well since returning to the station, he said.


Both Lund and Backes have more flexible schedules and have been able to keep their old jobs while working for the fire district, Kilbane said.


The fire district commission will discuss Crandall’s retirement and the open position at its next meeting, Jan. 3, Linsley said.


“I doubt they’ll rush off and fill it,” he said.



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