Ogdensburg firefighters union cites ‘egregious requirements’ in city’s contract offer

Ogdensburg firefighters union cites ‘egregious requirements’ in city’s contract offer
Ogdensburg Fire Department (Source: WWNY)

OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - The union representing Ogdensburg firefighters is firing back at the city over its recent contract offer.

Ogdensburg Firefighters Local 1799 President Jason Bouchard, in a letter Friday to 7 News, called the offer “completely unrealistic.”

On Thursday, the union rejected the city’s offer, saying it was “asking incredibly too much from our union.”

The union declined to disclose what the city offered.

However, City Manager Stephen Jellie said the contract would have kept staff at the current level with raises year-to-year.

He said members ended up choosing their perks over saving personnel.

On Thursday, the union released what it calls “a few of the most egregious requirements of the city’s ‘deal,’ to prevent the lay-offs the city alone, had ordered.”

The union said the offer:

· Significantly lessens contract duration by 47 months. Under the new proposal, the contract would end January 31, 2022 rather than December 31, 2025.

· Lowers minimum manning

· Changes shift structure

· Changes officer structure

The following is the full letter from the union:

As President of our Union, I feel it necessary to share the following correspondence that was issued to me collectively by the five men who have been laid off by city administration effective January 1, 2021. While I had previously decided not to give any credence to the latest of many, publicized personal attacks issued by the city manager upon myself, Secretary Ronald Bouchard, and our Union as a whole. I felt that this message, sent by the most affected individuals, deserves the utmost attention of the citizens of our city.

(LETTER CONTAINED BELOW)

President Bouchard,

The purported, “generous deal,” brought forth to our Union by the city was anything but, and rejected immediately. As you know, this was an effort by the city to re-write our entire contract. Our group feels it necessary that we notify the media and the public of our Union’s unanimous rejection of this offer. Understandably, the city has blamed Union leadership. We voted against this offer realizing its denial resulted in the imminent loss of our employment. This is why we as a Union have continued to vote against any requests by the city to re-negotiate.

The city has asked the Union forego decades of collective bargaining to save our jobs from elimination, a decision the city leaders themselves have made. The majority of these individuals voted to violate our contract before they ever came to us with one proposal to stop it. They have used the five of us as hostages, in an effort to bust our union, eliminate our manning, and destroy our legally binding contract. The type of negotiation the city manager and city has engaged in is strictly put, improper. The city simply issued a ransom note, as they issued layoff notices, blaming us. Please indicate that we note their efforts and we all voted a steadfast, NO, on the city’s offer. Their goal to destroy our department is undeniable.

Sincerely,

Allen Rickett

Daniel Strader

Aaron Charlton

Timothy Stevenson

Jacob Thornton

*(Five firefighters laid off effective 1/1/2021)*

Conclusion: It is undeniable that Ogdensburg Firefighters Local 1799 was under attack by city administration for the duration of 2020. The city threatened to lay off our dedicated public servants, unless we were to agree to a completely unrealistic offer on their part. This was done to continue their smear campaign on our department and our Union, as they realized this would never garner acceptance. In fact, the offer was so inconsiderate and insulting that the five men who have now been laid off, rejected it immediately. Please see below to read a few of the most egregious requirements of the city’s “deal,” to prevent the lay-offs the city alone, had ordered.

· Significantly lessens contract duration 47 months – Under new proposal contract would end 1/31/2022 rather than 12/31/2025.

· Lowers minimum manning

· Changes shift structure

· Changes officer structure

Their deal also includes changes numerous aspects of our collectively bargained contract. The fact remains, these men are holding the positions they’ve voted to abolish, hostage. In hopes, this will give them an inside track to disrupt our Union, create dissention, and destroy the contract they despise. Every single member voted against the city’s ridiculous offer because they saw it for what it was. Another attempt at this group’s attack on Local 1799, our contract, and public safety in Ogdensburg.

Thank you,

Jason Bouchard

Ogdensburg Firefighters Local 1799

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