WWNY 7 News Staff
January 11, 2021
CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) – The union representing Ogdensburg firefighters has lost a bid to restore laid-off members to their jobs. A state Supreme Court judge denied the request Monday.
The city issued five lay-off notices at the end of 2020, effective with the new year. However, city officials said last Friday that two more firefighters have opted to retire, and it appears that two more of the laid off firefighters will return to work. Overall firefighting staffing will now be at 20.
Lawyer Nathaniel Lambright told Supreme Court Judge Mary Farley in Canton last Friday that the firefighters and Ogdensburg citizens will suffer “irreparable harm” if they are not put back on the job. The lawyer for the city, Paul Sweeney, argued the city is within its rights to lay off the five firefighters.
City officials said Ogdensburg faces a tax and budget crisis, and cutting the size of the fire department is mandatory.
As part of the ruling, Judge Farley said, “Much, or all, of the loss about which the Union complains derives from lost wages and fringe benefits. This loss may be recompensed by monetary awards. Further, although the Union expresses legitimate health and safety concerns, the City’s response indicates that increased use of mutual aid will eliminate or lessen the risks of the inherently dangerous task of firefighting. Although the City’s anticipated actions may not eliminate the possibility of irreparable harm resulting from the Union’s health and safety concerns, the Union has not shown the possibility of harm to be ‘imminent, not remote or speculative.’”
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