Firefighter Sues Fire District And Union Over Terminal Leave Benefit

A firefighter with the Eastchester Fire District who retired last year, has filed suit against the district and Eastchester Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 916 claiming both are responsible for depriving him of a terminal leave benefit that would have given him two additional months of pay. Kevin Stewart filed suit in US District Court alleging a violation of the National Labor Relations Act and the New York’s wage payment law.

It is not clear why the suit was filed in federal court under the NLRA as opposed to in state court under the state’s public employee collective bargaining laws. According to the Town of Eastchester’s web site, the fire district is an autonomous governmental entity and not a private sector employer subject to the NLRA. As such it would appear the suit was brought in the wrong court under under the wrong law. That issue will likely be one of the first issues litigated.

According to the complaint:

  • EFD and Local 916 were bound by a collective bargaining agreement that set forth the terms and conditions of the EFD firefighters.
  • One of the contractual benefits provided to the EFD firefighters, including Plaintiff Stewart is terminal leave.
  • Article 8; paragraph 6 provides: “Every Member who retires from the Department under honorable circumstances shall be granted 60 calendar days terminal leave, which is understood by the Parties to be 60 calendar days of time off or payment for two (2) calendar months which is equal to two-twelfths (2/12ths) of the firefighter’s base annual salary rate during the final year of service.”
  • Plaintiff Stewart retired from service on September 1, 2021.
  • Plaintiff Stewart notified EFD of his retirement in writing and provided for a two week notice.
  • Thereafter, Plaintiff Stewart attempted to secure terminal leave as required by the union contract. However, EFD would not provide him with the terminal pay.
  • In response, Plaintiff Stewart went to file a grievance with Local 916 claiming that he was denied his terminal leave contractual benefit, which is approximately $14,000.00.
  • However, Local 916 refused to process the grievance and refused to explain to Plaintiff Stewart the basis on which he was not entitled to terminal pay.

Here is a copy of the complaint: