OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - “Happy.” It’s rare to hear that word coming from both the city of Ogdensburg and its fire union during their ongoing and often bitter dispute.
But it turns out both sides are happy because 2 laid-off firefighters are being brought back to their jobs as of Sunday.
This will bring the fire department’s staff level to 21. The city budget included funding for 20 firefighters.
City Manager and Fire Chief Stephen Jellie said he’s able to reinstate the firefighters because of an early retirement and by reallocating money from the chief’s salary.
Jason Bouchard, president of Ogdensburg Professional Firefighters Local 1799, called it a win for the fire department and the citizens of Ogdensburg.
That’s where the rare display of harmony, if you will, ends.
The union wants a remaining laid-off firefighter reinstated and says its contract, which requires at least 24 firefighters, is still being violated.
The union is also taking issue now that the city is moving forward with its next phase of restructuring the department. The city is demoting 3 assistant fire chiefs to the rank of captain as of March 1.
Bouchard said this violates the union’s contract and a grievance will be filed once the change goes into effect.