Minnesota Firefighters Sue to Block Restructuring

Firefighters in Brainerd, Minnesota have filed suit against the city alleging that plans to restructure the fire department by eliminating full-time firefighters and establishing a fully paid-on call department is illegal.

IAFF Local 4725 filed suit against the city in Crow Wing County District Court alleging that the restructuring violates the Minnesota Public Employees Labor Relations Act, and constitutes an unfair labor practice. The suit also claims that the city’s decision to create a paid-on-call fire department was retaliation for union members’ exercise of their First Amendment rights in speaking out about the plan in the past.

The Brainerd City Council voted unanimously on September 21, 2015, to switch from a combination of full-time and paid on-call firefighters, to a fully paid-on call department. The city insists that the cutbacks are financial driven, the result of neighboring communities withdrawing from regional service agreements that help fund the career staff.

Brainerd Dispatch reporter Spencer Bickett does a great job of detailing the four-count complaint. 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.

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