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.