Firefighter's Widow Fights for Benefits in Arizona
Juliann Ashcraft's husband was part-time employee
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2013 11:03 AM CDT
This undated file photo provided by the Ashcraft family shows firefighter Andrew Ashcraft.   (AP Photo/Courtesy Ashcraft Family, File)

(Newser) – The family of one of the 19 Arizona firefighters killed in June is making a public pitch today to pressure the city of Prescott into giving his widow and their four children health and pension benefits, reports the Arizona Republic. The sticking point is that Andrew Ashcraft wasn't technically a full-time employee, though he did work full-time hours, reports CBS News. Widow Juliann Ashcraft will get a federal payment of $328,000, but she won't get monthly survivor benefits, health insurance, or an insurance payout—unlike the families of the full-time crew members.

"I said to them, 'My husband was a full-time employee, he went to work full-time for you," says Ashcraft. "And their response to me was, 'Perhaps there was a communication issue in your marriage.'" Prescott officials say the issue is clear-cut. "The city cannot do this legally," they say in a statement. "The benefits for programs such as health insurance and the public-safety employee pension can only be provided if the individual was enrolled in those programs when the death occurred.” In all, 13 of the 19 Hotshots crew members killed were part-timers, but Ashcraft was the only one among them who worked at least 40 hours a week, says CBS. He had recently gotten a raise to $15.03 an hour, on par with supervisors, adds the Republic.

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Aug 8, 2013 4:00 PM CDT
Isn't there a law against working a part time employee full time hours and how giving them benefits? I think she needs a good lawyer to do some pro bono work on her behalf. Or as the other person said "let Prescott burn"
Aug 8, 2013 2:21 PM CDT
Aug 8, 2013 12:03 AM CDT
This is why your Public Service Emergency Response Personnel, Fire, Medical, Police all Fight to Stay Unionized. This is why You should be Unionizing or forming Guilds, or other Professional Trade Associations. Make a plan and work together. Folks on this board have raked me up one side and down the other for my pride in having been a Union Firefighter. Telling me that Unions were "old hat, communist, unnecessary". I was in a Union to keep This from happening to my family. The city I worked for would have left my family out in the cold if they could, had something happened to me. The only thing that kept them honest was the knowledge that the membership of the Union would do everything legally available to protect one of their own. We have told people for years that "Right to Work" equates to "Right to Die" at what ever penny ante wages that the bosses will pay. No one wants to be right at a cost such as this. Folks are gonna have to decide, do you want to protect yourselves and your family, or do you want to protect your employers profits? Labor management relations don't have to be hostile. Common ground can be found. But if you keep letting the other guy make all your decisions for you, you have no one else to blame. What happened in Arizona will continue to be the norm. Absent Friends