Layoffs looming for NYC firefighters

2 fire unions announced they are planning legal action to prevent FDNY from cutting staffing


By David Seifman
The New York Post

NEW YORK — Mayor Bloomberg warned yesterday that interference by the courts in the city's budget process is forcing him to speed up issuing pink slips — an hour before two fire unions announced they were planning legal action to prevent the Fire Department from cutting staffing.

"We're under great pressure here," declared the mayor, still fuming at court rulings that spared 200 carpenters in the municipal hospital system in September and nine deputy sheriffs at the Finance Department two weeks ago.

"So if we are in a situation where the cutbacks we're going to have to make to balance the budget may very well be held up in court, we have to start that process now."

The city has scheduled more than 5,000 layoffs over the next 18 months — and that's before Gov. Cuomo releases a state budget today almost certain to require additional layoffs.

About 600 pink slips are supposed to go out before June 30, a date Bloomberg indicated yesterday would be moved up very quickly.

"We are going to take those steps sometime in the next two weeks right now because we have to make sure there's savings," the mayor said

An hour after the mayor spoke, unions representing firefighters and fire officers announced they were filing legal papers before the city's Office of Collective Bargaining to prevent the Fire Department from cutting staff at 60 of the busiest engine companies from five to four firefighters per truck to save $30 million a year in overtime.

The other 134 engine companies already operate with four firefighters.

The change went into effect at midnight, when a 15-year contract with the Uniformed Firefighters Association expired.

Bloomberg said he'd been assured by Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano that would be a "relatively safe ways to spend less money," and he warned if the fire unions win their lawsuit, "we would have to close firehouses."

"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," shot back UFA President Steve Cassidy.

"He also said we should line up for hot chocolate in Central Park after the blizzard on Dec. 27 when he flew back from Bermuda. This is somebody who is a little out of touch with New Yorkers."

Sources said city officials have scheduled a meeting tomorrow with leaders of the Municipal Labor Committee, which represents the major municipal unions, to present details of the pension reforms the administration is demanding.

Copyright 2011 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
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