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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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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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