1. #1
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    Question Light duty question?

    Our local is having a small crisis and asked me to reach out and seek some advice.

    We have a new contract with no light duty language.

    A firefighter who has been off on a 207a injury for three years is about to be called back in to work codes on a "light duty" basis. After two surgeries he can only repetively lift 15lbs. and is restricted in mobility.

    The City is of the opinion " if we're paying him and the State won't medically retire him then have him come in and do small clerical tasks. He has seven years until retirement. The Administration is approachable and for the most part forward, honest with feedback.

    Do we have a fight, and if so where do we start?

  2. #2
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    knob, a long shot I know,but you haven't by any chance adopted the Wellness & Fitness initiative put forward by the IAFF? There is language in there dealing with light duty assignments, we recently got one of our guys assigned under that clause. We are also lucky in that recent changes to the provincial Workers Compensation Act pretty well compel the employer to creat a light duty assignment for many workers. Hope something works for you, we have been down this road before and its quite a battle I know.

  3. #3
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    We have a code enforcement department that utilizes light duty firefighters as well. 3 of the 6 in the office are on permanent light or temporary restricted duty. It is a good way to keep an injured firefighter feeling productive without aggravating his injury. If I was sitting around unable to work I'd go nuts. I myself have used this option after an off-work injury that would have used up several sick days (broke 5 ribs and would have been out 10 weeks).

    As far as your "fight" goes, unless a specific clause is spelled out in writing about refusing light duty, and a Doctor says he is fit for office work, I don't know how much of a fight you have. Does he not want to come back to work or is he completely unable to work in the department? How many Doctors has he seen to document the limits of his mobility? Would/Has his Doctor totally restricted him from doing this type of work? Is the city paying for physical therapy to make him more fit for duty or speed his recovery?

    I think the answers to these questions might help you find the answers.
    "What makes a person run into a building others are running out of?...Character."- Dennis Smith

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  4. #4
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    When I was President of our local We had are attorney write some model 207a language that has been used by other local in our state. Please check with th New York State Professonal Firefighters assn. they have a lot of info reguarding this. Most of the 207a law is very broad and you will need someone who has dealt with the system before.


    Engine5FF: As far as your "fight" goes, unless a specific clause is spelled out in writing about refusing light duty, and a Doctor says he is fit for office work, I don't know how much of a fight you have.

    Engine5FF is correct in this statement......bottom line is you need an attorney to proctect your members rights . What you do today will affect you and your members for years to come
    IACOJ Membership 2002
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  5. #5
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    I'm not sure I understand what you are trying to accomplish here. The City wants him to come in and work Code enforcement as a light duty, and you are fighting to have him off work for the next 7 years until he can retire? Good Luck!
    Especially if you have no language in your contract, they could most likely make him come in and move paper from one pile to another if they wanted to.
    A suggestion? Find out what he would be comfortable doing. Computer work, gathering statistics, public education, whatever, and put together a proposal for duties for him to do. If they are that approachable, then you may be able to make it work. They are well within their rights to make him come into work if they are paying him, I'm not sure that you'll ever be able to get around that unless you can prove that reporting for any light duties would be detrimental to their health or well being.

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    Exclamation

    The whole department thinks he should come back.

    He came in last week and found out the city was looking into him going on light duty. This began a string of "I can't work because..." statements. Two days later he's calling the Chief saying he has a new injury tied into the old injury and is bed ridden but is seen an hour later out and about. Today he's got arm crutch fumbling around in his front yard. It's become comical. He just doesn't want to work.

    He will lose Social Security of around 13-15,000 a year on light duty and won't be eligible for Overtime or special duty.

    Another problem is we have a guy out on an off duty injury who doesn't have disability insurance and is running out of sick time. He would take a light duty position but the City is against because they won't have to pay him once his time runs out.

    Would an improper practice for not negotiating be a channel?

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    The IP charge should be filed if there is nothing in your contract to cover the situation. Sounds like you have a slug working for you and will cause your local many headaches down the road. While I am a strong union supporter on many issues....This guy, is trying to screw the system should not be your problem, and should be told to knock it off because he will hurt a legitament 207a down the road. This guy is the reason that unions get a bad rap. the union E-Board should take a stand in conjuction with the chief and force the issue. If the guy is legit you should help him all you can but if he is not than........
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    Hey guys I am not a career firefighter, I am an Occupatoinal Health Technician. I am an onsite medic in an iron foundary.

    We deal very heavily in work comp. so some questions come up.

    1)Unless I didn't catch it, is this work-related?
    a)If not not bringing him back at some type of duty may cause problems with the Americans with Disabilites act.
    b)If it is work-related, when he has been released to any type of duty he has no choice but to come back. If he doesn't it could be grounds for termination.

    2)If he is claiming it is work-related and now saying he has aggraveted his injury, the possibility of a PI comes into the issue.

    Not knowing the whole story it is very hard to say for sure what can and should be done. Work comp laws very from state to state, the best bet would be to have an attorney evaluate the situation. If he is trying to get money they may want to look into disability retirement because he will become a problem.

    Good Luck.
    Proud to be IACOJ Illinois Chapter--Deemed "Crustworthy" Jan, 2003

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