OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ogdensburg’s fire union has voted unanimously to decline the city’s second contract offer Sunday.
They said in a statement there was very little difference between the first and second offers, and that the fire department is already under contract with the city through December 31, 2025.
The union maintains that the City of Ogdensburg has violated their current contract. Ogdensburg’s budget called for layoffs in the department, which took effect at the beginning of this year. Some of those layoffs have been offset by firefighters taking a $25,000 retirement incentive.
Fire union officials say the current agreement allows concessions for 24 members, but layoffs by the city have violated that by cutting staffing to 20.
The union also says they “will not give up benefits upon demand in response to hostage-taking maneuvers by the city” to keep what they “already have agreed to contractually.”
Ogdensburg City Manager Stephen Jellie says he is disappointed a deal couldn’t get done. If he had not heard from the union, Jellie was planning to rescind the offer Sunday afternoon.
“The city offered a very generous package to resolve the manner and get all the employees back to work, ensure that the staffing that the union claims that they absolutely have to have to operate safely was in place and obviously that wasn’t enough either,” Jellie said.
In a press release Saturday, Jellie pointed out that the fire department is the most costly department in the city, and other departments have seen staff reductions year after year. According to Jellie, the average cost of a firefighter in Ogdensburg is $131,000, not including perks and overtime.
Both sides were in court Friday, as the union attempts to get any layoffs reversed. A judge is expected to make a decision soon.
Sunday evening, Jellie released details of the second contract offer that the union rejected. Here were the terms:
-A minimum department-level staffing of 24
-Minimum daily staffing of four firefighters, including an officer
-Shift personnel structure included one captain, five firefighters
-Only one worker allowed scheduled vacation per shift
-Unused vacation time would not be paid out annually
-Eliminated annual sick leave bonuses
-Eliminated training overtime
-Eliminated an EMT stipend
-Eliminated out of title pay for two or less consecutive shifts
-Stipulated holiday pay would only be applied for a holiday worked
-Removed free supplemental disability insurance
-Removal of all reference to “code enforcement”
-Hazard pay only to be paid for any shift that operated longer than 2 hours below the daily minimum of 4