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Judge Puts Freeze On Firefighter Layoffs
Firefighters' Union, City Officials Return To Court Next Week

POSTED: 10:35 am EDT September 20, 2005

DETROIT -- Layoffs for dozens of Detroit firefighters that were supposed to go into effect Tuesday were put on hold by a judge.

The firefighters' union won a temporary reprieve against the city of Detroit, which will allow the firefighters to keep their jobs and five ladder companies to remain open, Local 4 reported Monday. The union claims the threat to public safety is overwhelming, and that the city is violating their contract, violating a binding arbitration and failing to negotiate in good faith, Local 4 reported.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Fire Commissioner Tyrone Scott announced the layoffs of 65 firefighters and 10 battalion officers on Sept. 1 to make a $15 million budget cut to help the city's deficit, Local 4 reported.

Kilpatrick and Scott also announced that five ladder companies would be deactivated -- including Ladder 16 on Miller Road, Ladder 24 on Livernois Avenue, Engine 21 on Linwood Road, Engine 47 on Mount Elliot, and TAC 2 on Montcalm -- but would not close, leaving officials the "capability of reactivating them at will, manpower permitting," according to Scott.

Scott attended a town hall meeting Monday night to speak to concerned residents about changes within the fire department. He said the legal battles over the department's restructuring are not over.

"We go back to court Monday, and possibly Tuesday, to discuss the issues," said Scott.

The city is trying to avoid going into receivership as it faces a projected budget deficit of more than $300 million, according to Local 4 reports. The Detroit Police Department's restructuring plan -- which included about 150 layoffs, the consolidation of precincts and downsizing command staff -- is also under review, Local 4 reported.

"We are moving forward with the restructuring. I am hoping that we do not have to halt it," said Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings.

The firefighters' union and city officials are expected to return to court Monday. A judge will ultimately decide whether the layoffs will stand, Local 4 reported.

Town hall meetings will continue this week to help clarify for residents the new plans involving the police and fire departments. The meetings are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the following locations:

Tuesday: Farwell Recreation Center, 2711 E. Outer Dr.
Wednesday: Butzel Family Center, 7737 Kercheval St.
Thursday: Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers St.