Following Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano’s declaration of an impasse in contract negotiations with the city’s firefighters union, the state Public Employment Relations Board agreed that talks had dissolved and mediation is needed to end the standoff, The Journal News/lohud.com reports today.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the city and the union would go to state-supervised binding arbitration, according to Spano. In binding arbitration, both sides agree to accept the decision of the arbitrator.
Firefighters haven’t had a new contract since their last one expired in 2009. The city filed a complaint with the state declaring an impasse after informal talks broke down late last year. The areas of disagreement included starting wages, staffing levels and sick leave.
Spano said in a statement today that the Public Employment Relations Board ruling Tuesday is a victory for the city and will allow the city to put a range of issues on the table, including salary, minimum manning provisions and whether the Fire Department should retain first-responder status for all medical emergencies. He wants to reduce minimum firefighter staffing levels and scrap the department’s emergency medical responder program, both of which the union opposes.
“The bottom line is that the Fire Union leadership’s tactics of delay are over,” he said. “The City has won the right to put the people’s case before a mediator, and ultimately an arbitrator, so that we can force a decision on these costly practices whether the Union likes it or not.”
Yonkers Fire Local 628 president Barry McGoey accused Spano of refusing to be “reasonable or realistic” in his dealings with the union.
“By declaring ‘victory,’ Mike Spano has finally come clean and admitted that he never intended to bargain in good faith in an attempt to try to reach an amicable agreement with the Yonkers firefighters,” McGoey said.