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Judge recommends reversal of fire cuts, retirements after unfair labor practice decision

A new ruling by a labor judge recommends the City of Peoria restore firefighters and vehicles originally cut to balance the budget.

In late February, Administrative Law Judge Matthew Nagy from the State Labor-Relations Board ruled Peoria had committed an Unfair Labor Practice against the Firefighters Local 50.

“This is a step in the right direction for all 190 plus union firefighters represented under the collective bargaining agreement,” said Union Spokesman Ryan Brady.

The complaint, filed in June of 2018, argues the city instituted a change of working conditions for the fire union by browning-out several vehicles last summer.

Per contractual agreements, any change in working conditions must first be brought to the bargaining table.

The judge offered several recommendations, including the re-hiring and restoring of all laid-off employees and retired vehicles, along with back pay plus interest.

“It should never have come to this,” quipped Brady. “It should’ve been something that was talked about, especially with the concessions that were made. We were just trying to protect what we were conceded contractually. To try and do what was best for the city.”

Part of the reason the judge ruled against the city is because the city, reportedly, made no attempt to defend themselves in hearings.

Peoria’s Legal Counsel, Don Leist, says all paperwork related to the complaint were sent to a dead email account by mistake, meaning his office was unaware of proceedings.

The union’s lawyer, Jerry Marzullo, disputes that saying proceedings have been going on for months.

He also claims to have a paper trail of properly-delivered emails.

Leist says the recommendation filed is different than a court order, and that the city plans to file legal exception.

Both lawyers say the other’s argument is without merit, meaning the battle for budget continues.

Mason Dowling

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