The City of Ogdensburg received the decision of the Appellate Court – 3rd Department today in the appeal matter brought against it by International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 1799, and while we strongly disagree, the Appellate Court is the ruling entity of the matter. The City of Ogdensburg will decide in the near future if it will make application to the NYS Court of Appeals or if it will proceed to the arbitration phase of the grievance process as ordered.
In the Appellate Court’s decision, which ultimately only orders the City to proceed to the arbitration step of the grievance process, the Appellate Court clearly identifies that:
- Daily staffing provisions of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is a safety clause, and not a job security clause as argued by the City (see highlighted section in yellow of the attached document - please click here).
- The CBA does not protect any officer from the layoffs during the period the CBA is in effect and it does not prevent the abolition of positions due to budget stringencies (see highlighted section in yellow of the attached document -please click here).
From the City’s perspective, the Appellate Court’s decision affirms the City’s authority to establish the overall size and structure of the fire department and is well within its legal right to take the action it has to date, with the exception of reducing the daily minimum staffing. IAFF Local 1799 originally grieved a total of 7 matters in their complaint and IAFF Local 1799 withdrew 5 of the 7 prior to the decision from the NYS Supreme Court. The two remaining issues of daily minimum staffing and organizational structure are left to be determined. The City is confident it will prevail in both of those matters, and based on today’s decision, the City has already prevailed in the issue of organization size and structure; the City looks forward to the conclusion of the process and will not make any immediate changes from the its current plan.
Since January 2020, Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly and the Majority City Council have worked tirelessly to save the city from the financial ruin it was facing due to the inaction and overspending by the previous city council. In early November 2019, the City and IAFF Local 1799 declared IMPASSED in their contract negotiations because the City Manager refused the unreasonable demands of the Local 1799. However, immediately following the staggering election defeat of then Mayor Wayne Ashley, City Councilors Jennifer Stevenson and David Price, the same administration hastily worked to ratify an irresponsible and unaffordable contract that would tie the hands of the incoming city council – they have not succeeded. In the same period of time, the same defeated city council also attempted to change the votes required to remove the city manager from office, however after public disapproval of both actions, city council rescinded the city manager action by stood by their actions in the IAFF contract. The City looks forward to presenting the underhanded abuse of power and fraudulent representation of city finances made during this period of time to the NYS Court of Appeals or an Arbitrator. The taxpayers and residents of the City will not be held hostage by the bad action of scorned politicians attempting to change the outcome of an election and it will not be robbed of its financial progress to satisfy one singular entity.