Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

April 17, 2014

Fire union pushing the wrong buttons

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The ongoing feud between Lockport city officials and the fire department’s union would be amusing — if it weren’t so costly.

This time around, the city is fighting with Local 963 over whether there should be garage door openers in Lockport Fire Department vehicles.

Unlike the arguments over remote controls that occur in probably every living room in Lockport, in this instance the union objects to being handed the remote.

The fire department used to open and close the bay doors behind which fire department vehicles are stored at 1 Locks Plaza. Then in 2010, the dispatching duties for the department went to the Lockport Police Department — and with those dispatching duties went the power and privilege of controlling the bay doors.

According to city fathers, they thought it might be handy for firefighters to have the ability to open those doors themselves. So in December they had the remotes installed in each department vehicle. But that power is apparently too much for Local 963, which says that it rightly belongs to the LPD and they don’t want to offend their union brethren by taking away their work.

Mind you, they weren’t told they had to open and close the doors. They weren’t told that LPD was prohibited from opening and closing the doors. They were told there was now an option. Rather than just say “thanks,” though, the union realized they could make hay out of the issue. So they filed a grievance on the issue in state Supreme Court, wasting attorneys’ time and thereby taxpayers’ money.

Aside from the waste of money, the union’s position is simply ludicrous. We’ve yet to hear an argument defending it that stood up to the smell test.

Finally, one could easily envision an instance where members of the Lockport Fire Department had to get out through the bay doors post haste. The extra seconds they save by pushing the button to open the doors could save a life. But given their stance on this, it would seem that Local 963 is more interested in being in the business of union-ing than life saving.

Given this current round of antics, we’re almost surprised the union didn’t file a grievance when two Lockport police officers saved a man from a burning Hawley Street home last March. After all, that wasn’t their job.

Sound ridiculous? Of course it does. Just about as ridiculous as taking the city to court to ensure your members don’t have access to the garage door remote. 

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