The New York State Court of Appeals denied the City of Ogdensburg the opportunity to argue the issue of not using arbitration to resolve the remaining two issues of contention with International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 1799. IAFF Local 1799 originally filed 7 complaints against the City, 5 of which they withdrew prior to the first court appearance in New York State Supreme Court. The City prevailed in Supreme Court on all matters, however, the Appellate Court, 3rd Department overturned that decision in favor of IAFF Local 1799 ordering that the City must settle the remaining issues through the use of binding arbitration. The remaining two issues involve:
- Minimum Daily Staffing
- Organizational Structure
The City Manager has reached out to all members of City Council to determine if the majority of City Council wants the City Manager to proceed to arbitration on the remaining two unresolved matters or satisfy the demands of IAFF Local 1799 by providing the relief requested. The decision to proceed to arbitration is the responsibility of City Council, not the City Manager.
As City Manager, I have followed the instruction provided by a majority of the Ogdensburg City Council (Skelly, Rishe, Fisher, Dillabough) in November 2020 by defending the City against the illegal, irresponsible and financially crippling sections of the current collective bargaining agreement with IAFF Local 1799 that was hastily ratified by the previous City Council, most of whom had just been defeated in the 2019 City Council election. To date, the City has prevailed in 5 of 7 issues the union initially filed in regards to the staffing decisions made by the City. Recently, Councillor John Rishe changed his stance on other critical issues involving the staffing of the fire department, and there is now likely a different direction that City Council will proceed. I will await the majority City Council decision before taking any action in this matter, and should a majority of City Council decide to cease the defense of these issues, they will need to provide a definitive plan how the additional personnel and overtime resources will be funded for the remainder of this fiscal year and future years beginning in 2023.