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Firefighters Will Report To Work Through August 6 [VIDEO]

Hearing scheduled in New London Superior Court on temporary injunction challenging layoffs

Twenty-four New London firefighters subject to potential layoffs will continue to report for duty for at least another three weeks.

Mayor Daryl Finizio announced this afternoon that a judge has scheduled a hearing on a temporary injunction filed by New London Firefighters Local 1522. The hearing will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 6, the same day as the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting. Finizio said the layoffs, which were , will be postponed pending the outcome of this hearing.

“The city administration again really apologizes to the firefighters who are caught in the middle of all of this, and to their families,” said Mayor Daryl Finizio. “We started this process early, before the end of the fiscal year, so it could be clearly resolved in time. We’re still hopeful it can be resolved quickly so that these people can move on with their careers and move on with their lives.”

Finizio has said the would have to , including 24 layoffs, in order for the department to meet its 2013 fiscal year budget. He said a would avoid all layoffs. Union president Rocco Basilica said the agreement includes reducing staffing levels per shift from 18 to 16, forgoing two raises totaling 4.25 percent, establishing a pension, and forfeiting nine positions.

The agreement failed to clear the City Council on July 2 after the vote to approve the agreement . Councilors opposed to the measure said they had not had adequate time to review the agreement and were unsure whether bringing the department onto the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement System would result in long-term savings. Finizio after this decision, but said they would have to go into effect in order for the department not to run a deficit following the council’s decision on Monday to .

In seeking the injunction, union attorney Eric W. Chester said the layoffs would reduce the number of employees in the department to 41. Chester said these firefighters would face lengthy shifts since they would still be operating under a union agreement, approved in 2009 and running through 2014, which requires a staffing level per shift of 18 firefighters. He said the increased burden would violate a section of the union’s collective bargaining agreement related to health and safety.

“There is a severe health and safety concern with no plan in place to keep our bargaining unit employees or citizens safe,” a union grievance filed on July 3 reads.

Fire Chief Ron Samul issued a memo on Tuesday outlining how shifts would operate with a reduced workforce. He said fire apparatus would have to be taken out of service if staffing levels per shift dropped below 18.

“Life safety will always remain our primary priority, but officers will have to assess incident stabilization and property conservation based on the resources at hand as well as the safety of each individual member at the emergency,” Samul said. “Battalion chiefs will also monitor EMS calls and, whenever possible, prioritize a call to minimize the use of mutual aid units for less serious calls or calls that can wait for an NLFD ambulance to become available, or assign a first responder to assist and wait for an NLFD unit.”

Finizio was critical of the council decisions, saying he thinks some councilors are trying to make “power plays” by postponing the issue. He said the administration has been open to hear councilors’ concerns and that the council has had sufficient time to review the agreement.

“I think we need to all put politics aside and put egos aside…This city needs this, these firefighters need this. It’s time,” said Finizio.

Basilica said the union has also been meeting with councilors on concerns related to the agreement. He thanked Finizio and his staff for their work in the matter.

“He’s been behind us all the way when it comes to certain issues that have come up,” said Basilica. “This has been a very emotional time for the members of Local 1522. I know the mayor was very torn about the decisions he had to make. Unfortunately the council took a position which was very untenable for him.”

Basilica said he thinks there has been some confusion related to the terms of the agreement. He said the costs of transferring to CMERS would be paid by union concessions rather than taxpayers.

“It’s huge long-term savings for the city of New London,” he said.

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Jim July 18, 2012 at 09:11 PM
I feel for the firemen...The union not so much
Alan Green, Jr. July 18, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Great coverage, Dirk! Great vids. I love when the background has that special 'blown out' area. Makes the whole thing look 'other worldly' - as it is already. BTW, only in New London would we have a guy in a tie making friends - and good deals - with a guy in shorts and a t-shirt? Good work on a hot summer day! Congrats, gents! Hang tough. What's the Navy say about confidential stuff? Loose lips sink ships? We elected our officials to make these kinds of deals for us. We'll know what the specifics are when it's appropriate. And you can always fire firefighters in a referendum if you want... Oh yeah, that's right! We elected Kathleen Mayor! And Mr. Collins is her secretary?
Luis Smart July 19, 2012 at 01:59 AM
I support the fire fighters and all that they do. With that in mind it seems like a whole lot of whining from these municipal employees. I think each and every one of us knows someone or some family affected by layoffs in the last two years, Pfizer has had layoffs, Mitchell College has had layoffs, EB has had layoffs, SNET has had layoffs, Foxwoods has even had layoffs, why is it such a greater tragedy and a burdon on the families of the firefighters? Are these people better than the other families that have been through layoffs in the past year or two. It just seems inconsiderate, damn even city employees have been let go by Daryl. We need to get past the elitist attitude and work as a community to resolve this.
Spencer July 19, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Luis--Pfiezer employees--although make life saving drugs---do not make life saving decisions. Mitchell college employees--although can provide life changing education, can not provide life saving rescues. EB employees although can provide life enhancing toys--do not have to answer the phones when a life depends on it. Foxwood employees, while may give some life long lasting memories, are not involved in life prolonging decisions. Every thing that I mentioned that really affect life things---the FFers, (And police for that matter), provide. You seriously can not compare your examples--to the FFers as far as why they are needed!
Luis Smart July 19, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Spencer, Are you saying all the other people who lost their jobs and there families were not as impacted because their jobs are not as important? The comment was in response to the comments that this is all so terrible and stressfull for the workers and their families. If you are a hair dresser and your job supports you and your family and you lose your job, the family that counted on that income is as stressed and as impacted as any family that loses a job and the income that it provided for the family. This was not about the critical nature of the jobs. But taking the spin you pen, would you support reducing the mayor's staff to save some of the fire fighters. after all how critical is a secretary or boy wonder to the city. The mayor keeps them over fire fighters. Just wondering.
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Spencer July 19, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Luis, unfortunately there is not enough room on these Patch posting to give my answer to this comment--so I had to break it up in several parts--Please bear with me--and I hope this works! (Warning it will be a long read!!) Here is part 1--Luis---this is not what I am saying at all. You asked this question--- "why is it such a greater tragedy and a burdon on the families of the firefighters? Are these people better than the other families that have been through layoffs in the past year or two" And that is what I was answering to--as to the why. Yes, our economy as it stands now is indeed a tragic one---and must be dealt with accordingly. Yes it is extremely heart breaking when a bread winner of the family loses a job in a company where they have to wait some time to find out if they will be able to go back to work. Yes it is a tragedy to watch these people who spent years in college, and multipe thousands, and in some cases hundred of thousands of dollars investing in themselves in order that they may be able to get an education that would get them a solid job, (Many of those thousands of dollars by the way have to be paid back to the banks that loan these people money---but that is another animal entirely!). So yes--tragedy all around.
Spencer July 19, 2012 at 11:40 PM
This is part 2 of my response--(Looks like it will be posted back wards---so you will have to find part one and work your way up--sorry about that!!) But here is what I think the major differnce is between the positions you mentioned, and my answer to the question as to "why is it such a greater tragedy and a burdon on the families of the firefighters?" Each occupation that you mentioned are indeed important, but they are only important to whom they have some form of business with the company. For example--I agree--Pfiezer have very important, very well educated people who are doing us a very much needed service for us in providing medicine and whatever else they make. I myself have been prescribed many of Pfiezer's products. However, those products only effect just a group of people who actually need and use them. Combine that with the fact that even though taking employees off of the production line may increase the work load of those who are not laid off, it does not put an imminent danger on the lives of the people who actually use the products. All of the products they make will still have the ingredients that they need in order for those products to be what they are. I think you would agree that that is also the case with each of the other occupations you mentioned.
Spencer July 19, 2012 at 11:42 PM
This is part 3 of my response to luis-- This however is not the case for the FFers and other public safety workers our town employs. These people are needed by EVERYBODY who live in this town--and sometimes they are even needed by people living in surrounding areas. Every person in this town, whether they are in a dwelling or not, or whether they are just here because their jobs or friends/family is in NL --are currently breathing, and a good majority of us would like to keep that going for a long while!!! Should an unfortunate, LIFE THREATENING emergency arrive with any of us involved the skills that these people have can not be measured by text book knowledge, because let's face it--there are just some things the text books don't cover. Everybody knows that losing even one of these individuals jeopardizes the effectiveness of how a job that the remaining FFers respond to will be done.
Spencer July 19, 2012 at 11:43 PM
part 4 of my response to luis-- That extra FFer let go of?? That is Al Mayo whose is so physically fit that he's got muscles that look like biceps behind his ears--who is just the right guy to help carry somebody who is wheel chair dependant down 5 flights of stairs, because the building is on fire and the elevator can not be used, and there isn't time to put the guy in a wheel chair. Who do you want in that situation? Al Mayo--or one of the older guys who might be two step away from personally having a slip disk, because he was having a problem carrying the person they are trying to rescue down those stairs??? Not that the older FFers can't handle it--but even they understand the reality of the job, at their age, and their physical conditioning
Spencer July 19, 2012 at 11:44 PM
part 5 of my response to luis--(Again---I had a long response that had to be put in parts--the first part is down below---and then you have to work your way back up!! Sorry abouyt that!!! I know this was long--but I feel that this is why everybody should be concern about the employment of these people. And if there is anybody who read this, and they are not concern about this situation, and they live here in NL--and should the TA fall through again on August 6th? Well...Let's just say I hope that I am not in a situation where these workers are neccesary.
Spencer July 20, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Looks like somebody fixed the order of my comments!! Hehe!! Now if they could have just edited it too!!
Spencer July 20, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I guess the Patch is giving free advertisement now??? Why isnt this gone yet????? I flagged it like 3 times now!!

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