New London Firefighters Local 1522 filed a court injunction today, putting 24 layoffs scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m. on hold.
The action comes the day after the City Council unanimously agreed to with the union aimed at preventing layoffs in the 2013 fiscal year budget cycle. Mayor Daryl Finizio two weeks ago after the council made t, but said the terminations would have to take place in order for the to stay within its budget.
Union president Rocco Basilica said the union’s lawyer filed an injunction against the city in , and Finizio again put the layoffs on hold as a result of the action. He said he did not know how long the injunction will last, but it should give the union time to work with councilors prior to their next regular meeting on Aug. 6.
“Whatever info they said last night that they’re missing, we’ll try to get to them,” said Basilica.
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Firefighters subject to termination had been ordered to return their city-issued equipment to the fire department headquarters at 4 p.m. Basilica said there was a brief disruption in staffing due to the layoff orders, but that levels were restored once dispatch notified the employees of the court decision.
“The mayor told us we’re going to continue with the status quo,” said Fire Chief Ron Samul. “At some point in the future, he’ll give us further directions. But for right now, we’re staying with the current staffing.”
Councilor Don Macrino, who voted to support the agreement at the council's July 2, said he was pleased to hear about the development.
“The city will remain safe, the guys will be back to work, and maybe they’ll find some middle ground so they can agree to move forward,” he said.
Councilor Adam Sprecace, who voted against the agreement at the same meeting, said he was glad to hear the news. He said he hopes Finizio will work with the council and unions to resolve any concerns over the agreement.
“Hopefully this injunction lasts a long time, because I think there’s money enough to carry us a long time before we have to consider layoffs,” he said.
Sprecace said he has been considering the agreement, and that his main concern is a proposal to switch the department’s retirement plan from a 401a to the Connecticut Municipal Employee Retirement System. Sprecace said he wants to make sure that the cost of the alternate system will not increase in the future. He also suggested that the union could accept the risk of increased rates in the new system and receive refunds from the city if rates decrease.
Other reported details of the agreement include reducing staffing levels per shift from 18 to 16, forgoing two scheduled raises totaling 4.25 percent, and forfeiting nine positions without layoffs. The layoffs initially called for 25 layoffs and leaving five vacant positions unfilled, although one of the employees who was to be terminated has since left the department.
Firefighter Al Mayo, who as the most recently hired firefighter was set to be the first employee laid off, said he has been through three terminations and four re-hires as a result of both the budget process and a . He said he has been more concerned about the other employees subject to the layoffs.
“I was worried about those guys more than myself, because I’ve been here before,” he said.
Amanda Holt showed up with a sign supporting the firefighters, saying they responded to a gas leak at her new home on June 8.
“They responded within eight minutes,” she said. “You can’t beat that service.”
Original breaking news
New London Firefighters Local 1522 has won an injunction temporarily suspending 24 layoffs set to go into effect at 5:30 p.m. today.
A message sent through dispatch to firefighters said the union successfully won the injunction through the New London Superior Court. The layoffs were set to go into effect following the City Council's decision to table a temporary agreement between the city and the union.
A full story will be posted this evening.