Reno firefighters sue to block layoffs

The firefighters and their union argue the city is legally prohibited from laying off firefighters if it has the money available to save the jobs


RENO, Nev. — Firefighters who will be laid off July 1 have sued the city, arguing the layoffs are a breach of their collective bargaining agreement and put the residents at risk.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported that the lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction against the layoffs.

"The city's conduct violates both the spirit and the letter of the (collective bargaining agreement) and severely compromises the quality and efficiency of fire protection for the citizens of Reno," the lawsuit says.

The firefighters and their union argue the city is legally prohibited from laying off firefighters if it has the money available to save the jobs, according to the report.

"To make the claim they have no money while increasing their savings account is disingenuous," Union representative Seth Williams said. "No one is out there advocating for public safety. This is about keeping firemen in the fire stations."

The city announced the layoffs after it learned it had lost a sizable federal grant that had paid to keep 50 firefighters employed, according to the report. The city budgeters found enough money to save 17 jobs, but later issued 33 layoff notices.

The lawsuit argues the collective bargaining agreement allows layoffs only in the face of a "lack of work" or a "lack of funds,” according to the report.

"Lack of funds cannot and should not be confused with an unwillingness to pay," the lawsuit says. "While the city may enjoy the privilege of discretionary spending, the city must also acknowledge its legal and moral obligation under the collective bargaining agreement to those firefighters who stand to lose their jobs."

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