Yonkers Firefighters, City Due Back In Court Wednesday

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The city of Yonkers and its firefighters will be back in court Wednesday as discussions continue over proposed cuts within the department. Photo Credit: File

YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers firefighters and the city will be back in court Wednesday as battles over proposed department cuts continue.

Last week, New York State Supreme Court Judge Nicholas Colabella issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the city from following through with a plan that would have cut the fire department’s EMS responsibilities.

The restraining order is in effect until Wednesday when the two sides will meet for a morning hearing at State Supreme Court in White Plains.

At the time of Colabella’s decision, union president Barry McGoey called the ruling a victory for firefighters and residents.

“The city’s threatened action endangered the safety of both civilians and firefighters,” the president of Yonkers Firefighters Local 628 said.  “It’s unconscionable for the city to endanger public safety as a bargaining chip in a contract negotiation.”

City officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday but have said the proposed EMS cuts are part of a continuing effort to trim overtime costs within the department.

Union leaders have said the plan would be detrimental to residents as fire engines are the first to arrive to stabilize victims, before turning the patient over to paramedics for treatment and transport to a hospital. 

This is the second temporary restraining order issued against the city in the past six months. In August, state Supreme Court Justice John La Cava prevented the city from moving forward with a plan that would have reduced the department’s minimum staffing numbers.

At the time, city Mayor Mike Spano said the city was committed to reducing the department’s “unsustainable” overtime costs.  The city projected overtime costs within the department are roughly $7 million per year.

With Yonkers facing a projected deficit of $420 million by 2016, city officials said they continue to consider all the possible options to close the gap.

We need to tackle and resolve this sooner rather than later, or our city will never be financially stable,” Spano said in August of the fire department’s overtime costs.

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