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Thread: NY Mayor Postpones Staffing Cuts

  1. #1
    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
    South West

    NY Mayor Postpones Staffing Cuts

    NY Mayor Postpones Staffing Cuts

    Courtesy of WABC News- New York

    Bad news for New York City firefighters: Their union lost one phase on Monday in its battle over manpower. But it hasn't given up hope. A last minute huddle with the mayor could put the fire department's plan to reduce staff on city fire engines on hold. Cheryl Fiandaca is at a fire station in Harlem with late developments Monday night.

    Despite losing in court, the union did win a victory of sorts- a sort of stay of execution. It seems the union met with the mayor late this afternoon, and they came up with a reprieve, a 30 day hold on the implementation of the cuts. This means the two sides are hoping to come up with another plan, another way to save money. But we should let you know that the cuts are still on the table.

    The FDNY has lost so many, and now its ranks will be trimmed again by a city deep in the red. That's because today a state Supreme Court judge ruled the city can reduce the size of its crews. The judge refused to grant the union's move for an injunction.

    The firefighters' union says that cuts will jeopardize public safety. They immediately asked for a meeting with the mayor and also that he not implement the cuts on Thursday.

    Steve Cassidy, Union President: "Even though the city has now won the right to reduce the number of men on 49 engine companies, we hope that they will now take the time to realize that they do not have to implement that, even though they have won the right to do it."

    The city plans to cut the size of crews at several firehouses from five to four firefighters. This is a move that the mayor says will save the city about $12 million dollars.

    Donna Kasbohm, City Attorney: "I think it was a difficult decision and he made the right choice."

    The city was given the opportunity to make the cuts because the union contract allows a reduction when the sick-leave rate exceeds 7.5 percent. Fire officials now say the rate is 8.6 percent and union leaders blame the medical situation on 9/11. They claim that many firefighters got ill working at Ground Zero without proper equipment.

    Cassidy: "We are over the number for one reason and one reason only. Nine eleven made firefighters sick in record numbers. As we get farther and farther away from September 11, 2001, the numbers will go down. I believe if the mayor gives us a few months he will see that."

    If the city and the union can't come up with another plan to save these cuts, they will be back on the table and they will be implemented. We should also let you know that there will be no layoffs, and no jobs will be lost. Firefighters, however, could be moved and jobs could be cut.
    WABC News- New York
    Steve Cassidy, Union President:

  2. #2
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002

    FDNY staff cuts on hold 30 days

    FDNY staff cuts on hold 30 days


    A Fire Department plan to shrink the crews of 49 engine companies beginning Thursday was put on hold yesterday by Mayor Bloomberg.

    The Uniformed Firefighters Association won the last-minute reprieve during a hastily arranged sitdown at City Hall between Bloomberg and union boss Steve Cassidy.

    The mayor gave the union 30 days to come up with alternate ways of cutting the $12 million he had aimed to save by reducing engine company staffing.

    "If there's a way that Steve Cassidy can come up with labor savings, productivity enhancements or monetary savings that we have to have, I'm the first one to say, 'Great! We'd love to have it,'" the mayor said.

    The sitdown came after a judge rejected the union's bid to block the cuts, which would slice staffing at 49 engine companies to four firefighters from five.

    The city said it can cut the five-member teams under a 1996 contract provision triggered when the FDNY's sick-leave rate exceeds 7.5% for one year.

    The union challenged that interpretation in a lawsuit filed last week - blaming the rising absentee rate on the terror attacks and contending firefighters had been assigned to Ground Zero without safe breathing equipment.

    "The department is unfairly taking advantage of a problem it caused," said union lawyer Michael Axelrod.

    The union also argued the cuts would jeopardize the lives of firefighters and the public.

    But Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice James Starkey said the courts have no jurisdiction in the contract dispute, which he said should be hashed out through collective bargaining.

    Willing to keep talking

    The planned cuts involve about a quarter of the department's 210 engine companies. Some 150 engine companies in less active areas already have four-member crews.

    "The mayor was pleased we won the court case," said Bloomberg spokesman Ed Skyler. "But, as he has said, [he] is open to suggestions on how the Fire Department can save money. We have an agreement to try - but not an agreement to agree - and we still have the right to go to four-man engines in 30 days."

    Cassidy said after the City Hall meeting that the sick leave rates were dropping.

    But FDNY officials said the rate would have to fall below 7.5% for a full year before staffing levels could be restored.

    Originally published on December 31, 2002

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