12/04/2009

LFD Dispatch is "Not for Court"

Posted by MJ

LUSJ reporting that Judge Kloch determined the issue is one for an arbitrator and not for the courts.


...If there’s a dispute between the union and the city about what their collective bargaining agreement says about dispatch, settling it is the job of an arbitrator, not a judge, Kloch added.
Lockport Professional Firefighters Association filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping a dispatch transfer in August 2007, three months after the fire board directed Fire Chief Tom Passuite to facilitate the transfer. The union got a temporary restraining order in October 2007, good until a court hearing on the permanent request. The hearing ended up being postponed repeatedly over the past two years, leaving the city subject to the temporary restraining order the whole time...
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...The union’s contract with the city includes provisions for one firefighter on every shift to act as the dispatcher, that is, the staff member who takes incoming calls and summons rescue personnel.

The question of whether to turn that duty over to a third party is tied up in the Lockport Fire Department’s personnel expenses. Supporters of a dispatch transfer point to required shift staffing minimums and high overtime costs, and say a transfer would take some financial pressure off the city. Alderman at Large Joe Kibler and retiring 4th Ward Alderman Pat Schrader have argued for years the city should use central dispatch because residents help pay for it, in a special tax applied to landline and cell phones.

A succession of union leaders have said they’re not disagreeable to a dispatch transfer but the city is obligated, by the contract, to “negotiate” it first...

My first thought is why does this decision take 2 years? Are our courts this backed up?

As for the "negotiate", here is how I would envision it: City: "We would like to remove the dispatch requirement and put the firefighter back on the street. There is no loss of man hours since the platoon sizes will not be affected. It will more efficiently provide services to the taxpayers." LFD: "Well some of our personnel may lose overtime pay but it should not be expected anyways. We agree that the benefits of having another person available for manning the trucks plus helping out the taxpayers are worth it "

No need for lawsuits, lawyers, etc. ;) If anyone thinks the negotiation should go differently, if other facts pertain, etc, please comment.

UPDATE 12/5: LUSJ reporting arbitration on the subject expected this Friday.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe in this last contract proposal the US&J reported that the firefighters agreed to let the city transfer the dispatch.

MJ said...

True, but as part of a "negotiation" one of which is probably the 10 man staffing which would cost the city 500k a year. There should be no need to "purchase" this change. It's just asking a firefighter to go fight fires on his shift.

Anonymous said...

The reporting on these matters seems so shoddy. I'm never sure what to think. If you read the Buffalo news you get one version and then the US&J spins the same story a whole different way.

Anonymous said...

Yea, good luck on that conversation!
And they are working on a minimum 9 man shift now including the one who sits on his but dispatching. So now, could they go to a minimum 8 man crew?

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