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NY union files grievance over garage door openers

The union said that the rules surrounding the devices violate their contract

Buffalo News

LOCKPORT, N.Y. — The City of Lockport and its firefighters’ union, which have had a prickly relationship for months, now are at odds over who should be able to use garage door openers to let the trucks in and out.

The union has filed a grievance over the installation of garage door openers in all Fire Department vehicles, claiming that the rules surrounding the openers violate their contract.

The city went to court Friday to seek a ruling that the Lockport Professional Fire Fighters Association’s rejected grievance can’t be taken to state arbitration.

The court paperwork the city filed over the signature of Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey sought to paint as ridiculous the dispute over how and by whom the overhead doors to the firehouse are to be opened.

“It is utterly incomprehensible to the reasonable taxpayer and the city as to why Local 963 has chosen to waste valuable city resources and thousands of dollars in potential arbitration fees, resources and time in defending this,” the mayor wrote.

But the latest squabble may be a symptom of the continuing poor relations between the city and the union.

“At this point, nothing’s changed from the previous mayor,” union President Kevin W. Pratt said. “We’re still waiting for a call from them to go back to the bargaining table.”

All five city union contracts ran out at the end of 2012, and only the police union has reached a new agreement with the city.

Deputy Corporation Counsel David E. Blackley, who handles the city’s labor litigation, is using the same tactic he used in the lawsuit over the union’s objections to changes the city made in eligibility rules for promotion to fire chief, a case that was heard but not settled by Kloch on Thursday.

The tactic is asking a judge to bar the union from referring the matter to the state Public Employment Relations Board.

Pratt said, “This appeal is a new thing to Dave Blackley. He’s found it a good way to avoid the inevitable, which is going back to the bargaining table.”

The job of opening the overhead doors at the firehouse to let the vehicles in and out used to belong to the Fire Department’s dispatchers. But in May 2010, the city transferred those dispatching duties to the Police Department and installed a remote-control garage door opener at the police desk. Firefighters could still open the doors themselves with a button on the wall inside the firehouse.

In December, the city took the step of placing garage door openers inside all fire vehicles, like the ones many drivers have inside their cars. Fire Chief Thomas J. Passuite issued official guidelines detailing use.

“It has to do with breaking the contract,” Pratt said. He said the union objects to taking work away from the police. “It’s their work, and we don’t think it comes back to us,” he said.

He said the rules on door opener use and disciplinary provisions improperly supplement the union’s agreement with the city dating back to the transfer of dispatch work to the police.

McCaffrey’s document said, “Essentially, Local 963 is objecting to the option, provided for and installed at city expense, of using one of the fingers of a firefighter to press down on a button located on the remote control device within the cab of every fire apparatus in order to open the overhead doors of the Fire Department, all for the convenience of firefighters.”

Copyright 2014 Buffalo News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

All Rights Reserved

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Mike Stephen Mike Stephen Tuesday, April 15, 2014 4:43:10 PM Really.. How childish is this.... Professional Firefighters? Unions causing agruments like little kids... fire the kids and hire adults...
Jim O'Neill Jim O'Neill Tuesday, April 15, 2014 4:52:54 PM Simple solution..... give the remotes back to the city, get your asses out of the apparatus and walk into the station to push the button to open the door. Like we did in the old days. Oh wait, we had to throw them open manually too, didn't have electric motors hooked up to them. Give me a god-damned break.
Jim O'Neill Jim O'Neill Tuesday, April 15, 2014 4:54:01 PM Simple solution..... give the remotes back to the city, get your asses out of the apparatus and walk into the station to push the button to open the door. Like we did in the old days. Oh wait, we had to throw them open manually too, didn't have electric motors hooked up to them. Give me a god-damned break.
John Trout John Trout Tuesday, April 15, 2014 5:09:40 PM I tend to favor the rights of union members,but thus is much ado about,,,, very little!
Matt Stumpf Matt Stumpf Tuesday, April 15, 2014 5:12:54 PM I am a union supporter but it is crap like this that gets unions a bad name.
Nathan Stephens Nathan Stephens Tuesday, April 15, 2014 5:24:12 PM Wow. This has to be one of the stupidest, most childish stories I've heard yet. What a bunch of cry babies.
Joe Martello Joe Martello Tuesday, April 15, 2014 5:29:58 PM And that's why unions are not needed. Crazy crybaby bullcrap
Dusty Gay Dusty Gay Tuesday, April 15, 2014 5:53:04 PM union trash
Greg Forsythe Greg Forsythe Tuesday, April 15, 2014 5:53:14 PM OMG! really? are you serious?!? you have nothing better to do than cry about who opens the door? are you on a date that you have to have the dispatcher open your door for you? Do they get a kiss on the cheek at the end of their shift too?
Corbin Doades Corbin Doades Tuesday, April 15, 2014 5:53:25 PM So this is all due to them not wanting an easier way to open the garage doors for their station in the trucks.....Sorry, but you're dumb and if you wanna keep crying about it, I will GLADLY come take your job off your hands.
Gordon Bentley Gordon Bentley Tuesday, April 15, 2014 6:05:20 PM Is this a joke? Please tell me this is a joke. Disgraceful!
James Bucksnort James Bucksnort Tuesday, April 15, 2014 6:35:42 PM I resent the remarks below slandering all unions and union members. That's bullshit and you know it. Ill bet you'd say different if you were on the job.
Jonathan Williams Jonathan Williams Tuesday, April 15, 2014 6:42:51 PM And the locals wonder why civilians are pissed and fire department unions
Bob Kern Bob Kern Tuesday, April 15, 2014 6:55:23 PM Freakin ridicules your union needs to get a life....
Dale Head Dale Head Tuesday, April 15, 2014 7:00:25 PM oh come on…negotiate toughly, but don't be stupid.
William Matthew Faulk William Matthew Faulk Tuesday, April 15, 2014 7:06:32 PM That is stupid we just replaced a door last year with one with an electric opener and fixin have to do the other. I like the electric openers but all it takes is a finger to open it or close it ain't hard work. If they had to do it like we used to and do it by hand they wouldn't be complaining. Besides the openers we have ain't got nothing on me I can smoke those openers about two pulls on the chain the door is open.
Terry Southern Terry Southern Tuesday, April 15, 2014 7:47:49 PM You have got to be kidding..........
James Myers James Myers Tuesday, April 15, 2014 7:48:34 PM Only in New York, don't matter if it's state or city.
Christopher Couell Christopher Couell Tuesday, April 15, 2014 10:12:25 PM Wow......grow up
Eric Smith Eric Smith Tuesday, April 15, 2014 10:48:37 PM You guy are not getting it they are trying to make a point they are working with out a contra
Mark Knapp Mark Knapp Tuesday, April 15, 2014 10:55:01 PM wow what a waste of time and tax payers money to sit there and argue over how a garage door is opened.
John Durkin John Durkin Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:37:14 AM Obviously many people here don't understand the issue. The firefighters' are working without a contract. They have to bug the hell out of the city with this kind of nonsense so that they can get back to the bargaining table. Childish or not, they want and deserve their new contract. The garage doors is nothing more than another catalyst. I stand behind the firefighters and it's union. I see plenty of you with firefighter pics and personal stories of being firefighters, we'll stand behind your firefighters in their cause or please delete any mention of brotherhood from your personal page.
George Hall George Hall Wednesday, April 16, 2014 4:37:07 AM Stupidity at its best - are these FFs that anal?
Paul Kempton Jr. Paul Kempton Jr. Wednesday, April 16, 2014 4:49:19 AM Agree Goerge....was going to relate a comment to this but not in the mood for the backlash...but business as usual at many bases too!! Ironically I grew up 12 miles from Lockpost, NY (town in the article). This city was home of a "former" huge GM assembly plant...note former.
Art Vogel Art Vogel Wednesday, April 16, 2014 6:16:53 AM Well, George think about it, first they will have to decide which crew member will be authorized to open the door, then which hand the device will be held in, which finger to press the button, and finally how far from the station should they be to operate the door. The Union will most likely require a technical manual be written and additional training for the FFs. Your right, it is a prime example how idiotic these negotiations have become.
John Jersey John Jersey Wednesday, April 16, 2014 8:51:02 AM Really guys if anything it's a safety issue. The remote is a needed feature especially if the door hangs part way up, which does occur and saves time and we all know time is a factor. But as someone stated a crew member has to be responsible so the remote is not hit and closes on the leaving apparatus. Also they can secure the door once out.. Common sense???
Steve Kjonaas Steve Kjonaas Wednesday, April 16, 2014 11:12:17 AM AND then of course besides the level 1 certification to operate the stall door opener is just the beginning. There will be cost associated with sending fire fighters to level 2 school; milage, per diem, lost work productivity in the fire station, etc... This lawsuit is frivolous and beyond stupid, the union needs to be involved with officer and fire fighter safety, not whether they have enough work cut out for them
Steve Kjonaas Steve Kjonaas Wednesday, April 16, 2014 11:14:17 AM I'd be fairly embarrassed to be a member of this union.
Bradley Takach Bradley Takach Wednesday, April 16, 2014 11:28:10 AM These people need to remember why they are there in the first place, to protect and save lives and property. My volunteer fire department would love to be able to afford garage door openers like these that the guys are complaining about. Be glad you have them, be thankful you have a job and quit being such petty children!
Curt Ward Curt Ward Wednesday, April 16, 2014 11:53:52 AM One Department I work on removed the door controls from the radio room because you couldn't see if the doors were clear before closing the doors. Can the dispatchers see the doors? If not how do they know if the truck is clear of the door before the close it. Isn't it safer to have the firefighters that are using the door control the opening and closing of the door since they know if everything is clear of the door.
Roger Sandoval Roger Sandoval Wednesday, April 16, 2014 11:56:12 AM Whats next .....fighting over who controls the TV remote !! grow up !!
Jeff Collins Jeff Collins Wednesday, April 16, 2014 12:08:23 PM I am a Volunteer Firefighter with a stack of IFSTA / MU Columbia, MO. certificates that would rival any "Professional Firefighter" with only one paid / combination department within 80 miles of where I live. That is why I am not a "Career" Firefighter. But I have a hard time understanding why the Union considers me a "wannabe" and "non-professional" when I read stories like this. As stated in another post just because I do not get paid, does not mean I am not a professional.
Brian Gale Brian Gale Wednesday, April 16, 2014 12:17:26 PM This is just stupid! Aren't there more important issues within the fire service to be worried about!
Aaron Craigie Aaron Craigie Wednesday, April 16, 2014 12:28:58 PM Was this originally posted on April first? WTF
Tim Clark Tim Clark Wednesday, April 16, 2014 1:51:44 PM Grow a pair
Bob Crosby Bob Crosby Wednesday, April 16, 2014 2:47:09 PM We have had door remotes in our apparatus for years. The officer makes sure the door is opened and closed.
Skip Stewart-Dore Skip Stewart-Dore Wednesday, April 16, 2014 2:47:39 PM GIVE ME A BREAK! As a former Paramedic/Firefighter then Assistant Chief, I am not pro union because of issues like this. And you wonder why the hard working general public is ready to eliminate Public Safety jobs to survive economically
Dave Adams Dave Adams Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:11:57 PM Time to disband the union. This is proof that they are useless.
Geddon Matthew Pennebaker Geddon Matthew Pennebaker Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:34:26 PM Simple solution... get rid of stupid unions
Andrew Schafer Andrew Schafer Wednesday, April 16, 2014 6:59:18 PM This kind of stink over remotes? I wonder what their culture of safety is like?
David Newton David Newton Wednesday, April 16, 2014 11:47:03 PM Don't blindly follow down this childish path. If they are having this problem then they need to stay focused on the issues.
Ben Eby Ben Eby Thursday, April 17, 2014 2:49:33 AM Not supporting anything else that may or may not be going here, but this is exactly why unions have the bad reputation they have. This is utterly ridiculous.
Ben Eby Ben Eby Thursday, April 17, 2014 2:52:00 AM I have been a firefighter (paid, full time) for over 15 years, most of that non union. I never needed the union the feel the brotherhood. The brotherhood has absolutely nothing to do with unionization of this carer.
Martin Gill Martin Gill Thursday, April 17, 2014 1:10:16 PM Yes Jeff, we have heard about your stack of certs many tinmes now. Do you cut and paste ebery time? This article is not about you or them calling you a wanna be, it is about the tactics being used by a union trying to get the employer back to the bargaining table through back door tactics that make the unmion look childish. I can only imagine that since you are not a career firefighter, you simply don't have any exposure to this type of issue with work. Your certs have nothing on them that talks about ho to deal with working without a contract, do they?
Martin Gill Martin Gill Thursday, April 17, 2014 1:15:35 PM What many people on here don't realize is this- while it may seem childish to bring up an issue like the garage door openers and who operates them, these types of arguments have been fought by unions for decades. On large all union jobs, if a plumber picks up a saw to cut some wood so they can do their plumbing job, itcan shut a jobsite down. That is taking work away from another union member and is a violation of most contracts. Sounds childish and probably is, but this is how the union protects it's members. In this case, I don't see why the police should be responsible in any way for the opening and closing of fire station garage doors, but the city saw fir to make them responsible for it, so that is who does it. Now the city wants both parties to do it. But they don't want to have a contract. Well, it is good for the fire fighters to work under a contract and if the city doesn't give them one, then firefighters shoudl not have to do anything not spelled out in the non-existent contract. See how that works? I am sure the firefighters would love a new contract, so now the ball is in the city's court.
Jeff Collins Jeff Collins Thursday, April 17, 2014 1:58:12 PM Martin Gill: I only said it twice and because it was on two different stories and not everyone reads all stories. Sorry if I offended you. No I did not cut and paste, I typed it both times. I am fully aware how Unions and Contracts work as I moved to a rural area about 10 years ago. I will use the word Union as a whole as most Locals as probably not as bad as some. But it seems the Union tries to make the non-union firefighter look bad, but then they do stupid stuff like this. I do not know the whole back story, but just seems pretty unprofessional to me. The Union seems to preach Professional this and Career that, but seems to shoot themselves in the foot a lot.
Douglas Hunter Douglas Hunter Thursday, April 17, 2014 9:45:41 PM I support all firefighters but this is over the top! I do not understand why anyone would think they deserve anything including a new contract! People do not deserve anything you earn it! Acting like a baby does not get you a golden spoon! Keep in mind people put their lives on the line everyday without a contract. They volunteer without a contact and do it with pride! For the fire fighter that do your job everyday because you want to make a difference my hat is off to you! For the others looking for a golden spoon grow up!
Cindy Casey Cindy Casey Friday, April 18, 2014 12:43:32 PM I understand as one post stated this is about contracts not being in place. However, that issue is what needs to be the focus not taking issues like opening doors and making that the issue just to be the squeaky wheel. The public doesn't understand nor does it read that there is a contract issue it just sees that grown people are feuding over a garage door opener. This make all of us in the emergency services field look bad.
Gibson Gibson Gibson Gibson Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:31:06 AM Reminds me of the "no crush" rule in Oregon (or Washington?). Up there, aluminum cans cannot be crushed when you recycle them. The reason? Because it takes more union trucks to haul uncrushed aluminum cans, than it takes to haul crushed aluminum cans . . .

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