A judge denied a request Wednesday to stop the City of Warren from laying off 36 firefighters and paramedics whose terminations went into effect today.
The Warren firefighters union requested that the court issue a restraining order to prevent the layoffs, pending the outcome of an unfair labor practice lawsuit the union filed against Warren on Tuesday in Macomb County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit said that the city failed to work with the union to find an alternative to layoffs, discredited the union through comments to the news media and unfairly punished employees.
Circuit Judge Peter Maceroni, who is handling the case, refused to grant the firefighters a restraining order to halt layoffs, but he scheduled a hearing for July 9 to hear arguments on the union's request for an injunction to reinstate the laid-off employees.
Maceroni and attorneys for both sides said they plan to meet before July 9 to attempt to resolve the dispute.
Also on Wednesday, as part of the cuts, Warren privatized the remainder of its paramedic services. The city will use Universal Ambulance, which already handles about 60 percent of the city's services.
Effective today, the city terminated its licenses to transport patients. So even if Maceroni reversed the layoffs and ruled in the union's favor, paramedics would not be able to return. Renewing the licenses could take up to a month, city officials said.
Gordon Gregory, attorney for the firefighters, lamented that the layoffs will not only hurt the firefighters but also endanger residents of Warren. Firefighters continue to point out that Warren has a greater percentage of senior citizens than most communities.
But Howard Shifman, a Birmingham attorney who handles some of the city's labor negotiations, denied that residents are in danger.
"This is a case about money," Shifman said.