Temporary Restraining Order Protects Public Safety Sustaining the Minimum Firefighting Contingent and Available Equipment on Duty
(August 7, 2012 – Yonkers) The contractual rights of Yonkers firefighters were affirmed by the Supreme Court of New York, Westchester County announced Richard Corenthal, a partner in Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., who represents the Yonkers Fire Fighters, Local 628, International Association of Firefighters, AFL-CIO. New York State Supreme Court Justice John R. LaCava issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) ordering the city of Yonkers that it cannot ignore contractually required minimum firefighter safe staffing standards. Currently the Yonkers Fire Department is required to have a minimum firefighting contingent of 57 firefighters on duty at all times to protect the city.
The temporary restraining order issued by the Court stops the City’s violation of members’ collective bargaining rights as the City sought to reduce the minimum number of firefighters on each shift to as few as 48 and remove two pieces of equipment from service below contractually required minimum standards.
“In upholding the firefighters the Court’s ruling confirmed that the collective bargaining agreements cannot be arbitrarily ignored, said Local 628’s attorney Corenthal.
“This was not only a blatant violation of a contract but also endangered civilian and firefighter safety,” said Barry McGoey, president of Yonkers Firefighters Local 628. “Closing two firehouses not only impacts the neighborhoods surrounding where they are located but the city as a whole. I couldn’t imagine having to wait an extra minute or two for help while you or a family member is having a heart attack or stroke. In an emergency it can be the difference between life and death.”
“This ruling sends a strong and clear message affirming the validity and sanctity of the firefighters’contract with the City and the citizens they serve,” said McGoey. “Our firefighters not only serve this community, they are residents and taxpayers as well. It was wrong of the City to trample on the rights of these citizens and workers.”
The Yonkers Fire Department is the primary provider of pre-hospital emergency care with firefighters trained as Certified First Responders. Often fire engines are the first to arrive to stabilize victims, before turning the patient over to paramedics for further treatment and transport to emergency rooms.
A hearing on the TRO is scheduled for August 30, 2012.