Ogdensburg firefighters ask court to intervene in fight against cuts

Ogdensburg firefighters ask court to intervene in fight against cuts

OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Ogdensburg Firefighter’s union is filing more legal challenges against the city.

On Friday, the union filed papers asking St. Lawrence County State Supreme Court to stop the city from reducing staff levels in the fire department until a neutral arbitrator has made a ruling.

It comes as the city’s budget plans to cut seven firefighter jobs.

“This is about the safety of the firefighters and safety of the public. These reductions are reckless and they’re gonna result in people getting hurt,” said Nathaniel Lambright, lawyer for the union.

The union maintains cutting firefighters goes against its collective bargaining agreement and drops staff below the agreed-upon number.

In September, the union filed a lawsuit over other workplace-related grievances.

City manager Stephen Jellie told 7 News Wednesday he’s disappointed the firefighters and city couldn’t reach a solution “instead are turning a very, very selfish turn to their own needs only and not considering what’s best for the entire city.”

Jellie said the city can’t afford all the firefighter salaries.

“Will there be some increased risk in some areas that we have to mitigate through use of mutual aid, partnering closer with neighboring fire departments? Yes,” Jellie said

“But I would really wish the fire department union would stop the shameful behavior and putting fear into the community because it’s just not true.”

“These are difficult times, they’re difficult times for lots of municipalities, but no one has told me that Governor Cuomo has said public municipalities no longer have to abide by lawfully negotiated contracts,” Lambright said.

Lambright said he believes the state Supreme Court will make a decision on an order to stop the layoffs sometime next week.

Failing in that, the layoffs would occur when the budget goes into effect on January 1st

Below is the petition filed in state supreme court.

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