Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

January 10, 2014

City files legal action

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The City of Lockport is seeking to stop the arbitration of a grievance the city firefighter union has filed against it, primarily by saying the union is taking action against the wrong entity.

In December, the Lockport Professional Firefighters Association filed a demand for arbitration with the state Public Employment Relations Board. The union is trying to stop a recent change in eligibility for the fire chief civil service exam.

On Tuesday the city filed an order to show cause in State Supreme Court to stop that process. Both sides will return to court Feb. 13 to hear arguments on the city’s filing, Justice Richard C. Kloch, Sr., ruled.

According to the LPFA’s Dec. 19 filing with the relations board, making the municipal training officer eligible to take the fire chief civil service exam violates the agreement the union has with the city. The agreement says the MTO can only be promoted starting with lieutenant, the grievance contends.

”The MTO position has no supervisory component and is thus unsuitable for promotion to any rank other than lieutenant,” the filing says.

The city’s argument is simply it has nothing to do with the eligibility change. The change was made by the city Civil Service Commission in July, a separate agency that operates outside of the city’s authority despite being appointed by city officials.

”We don’t have a dog in this fight,” Mayor Michael W. Tucker said.

The city’s court filing includes minutes from the commission’s July 16 meeting. Agenda item number four is the amending of a job specification for fire chief, which the minutes say was reviewed and approved.

Deputy city attorney David Blackley said the city doesn’t believe it violated the agreement, because the change was made by the commission. In the city’s court filing it says officials did not partake in the decision making process and the union was taking action against the wrong party.

”The city didn’t change anything,” Blackley said.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.