Arizona firefighter’s widow denied benefits over city’s ‘seasonal employee’ claim

By Arturo Garcia
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 11:35 EDT
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Arizona 'Hotshot' firefighter's widow fighting city over benefits [CBS News]
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The widow of one of the 19 Arizona firefighters killed battling a wildfire on June 30 is being denied salary and health benefits due to her despite her husband being a full-time employee, CBS News reported on Monday.

“I said to them, ‘My husband was a full-time employee. He went to work full-time for you,’” Juliann Ashcraft told CBS. “And what their response to me was, ‘Perhaps there was a communication issue in your marriage.’”

Ashcraft’s husband, Andrew Ashcraft, was part of the “hotshot” crew based out of Prescott, Arizona, that was consumed by a fire fueled by severe wind changes.

City officials contend that Andrew Ashcraft and 12 other members of the team were employed on a seasonal basis, which disqualifies them from the benefits for bereaved families of full-time city employees. The families of all 19 victims will get a one-time federal payment of $328,000 and worker’s compensation.

But CBS reported that Andrew Ashcraft was employed on a full-time basis, and officials with local union group United Yavapai Firefighters told CBS that he was the only one working 40 hours a week on a year-round basis among the firefighters currently denied full-time benefits.

“The city has fully complied with all of the laws and employment policies that direct survivor benefits,” city officials told CBS in a statement.

Watch CBS’ report on Juliann Ashcraft’s fight for benefits, aired Monday, below.

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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