Oneida Firefighters File Staffing Grievance

Firefighters in Oneida, New York are grieving a decision to reduce minimum shift staffing from five to four.

The Oneida Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local No. 2692 filed the grievance after Mayor  Don Hudson issued a directive to reduce the staffing on July 26, 2012. The Union also filed an improper practice (unfair labor practice) complaint with the state Public Employment Relations Board.

Mayor Hudson, who is also the city’s former fire chief, ordered the change after the department used up  $80,000 of the $85,000 budgeted for over time. In a letter to current fire chief George Myers, the Mayor stated “it appears some think the only solution to the problem is to continue to throw money at the problem”.

Firefighters union president  Reay Walker said the reduction will “severely jeopardize the safety of the public and the safety of firefighters” and claims that the mayor’s math is off. He pointed out that overtime costs are attributable to firefighter injuries and a vacancy. The vacancy saves money in the salary account that could be used to offset the shortage in the overtime account. He also claims the city receives compensation from workers compensation when a member is off injured that should also offset what appears to be an overtime deficit.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • Jim

    The shame is his augment will fall on deaf ears in the public. We are going through the same sort of thing. Every augment the administration makes we debunk with facts. Then they give us a puzzled look and move on to another subject. I think Union leaders are becoming a lot smarter than the administrations that they work for.

  • With Mayors like that-a good financial investment will be in those businesses that make deck guns and related master streams.

    • Hey Chief

      You would think a Mayor who at one time was a fire chief would not characterize minimum safe staffing as simply a “problem” toward which one has to needlessly throw money.

  • jeff

    When are we going to wake up and see whats going on the economy is in the crapper and wont come back for a long time when there is not enough money coming in to pay the bills you have to cut something we haven’t seen anything yet so be prepared for everything to go belly up its not going to be a pretty picture!!!

  • Jim

    I think as firefighters and labor leaders we have a vested interest in our municipalities financial condition. We cannot and should not sit and watch as our municipalities misspend what money they have coming in. I think in most places concessions are being made by firefighters. In the words of Raum Emanuel “Never let a crisis go to waste”


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