New Orleans firefighters boycott over long overtime hours

NOFD Manpower Concerns

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - New Orleans firefighters say they will no longer voluntarily work overtime hours because of a host of issues they want to be settled. New Orleans firefighters say they’ve decided to send a message to city hall that enough is enough.

They say there are several labor issues that haven’t been addressed in years.

The biggest issue they say right now is that the call volume has increased over the last decade while the department's manpower dramatically decreased.

The union president told Fox 8 in 2010 there were about 800 members and today there are about 500. He says it's the lowest in the agency's 128-year history. To cope, he says firefighters are working many overtime hours. They’re working between 96 and 120 hours a week to make up for the shortfall.

We're told the firefighters are exhausted. Other issues included, how they're paid overtime and the amount they're paid. The firefighters met with the Cantrell administration on Friday, but they said nothing was solved.

The Cantrell administration responded tonight.

"To choose this time to do it at the heart of Mardi Gras coming up on Friday, then the hard rock collapse, nothing like it before,” Chief Tim McConnell said. “And you won't look around and find it anywhere else in America and to capitalize on this just speaks to lack of leadership on their part."

“They figured if y’all can say y’all can do it without us, then we will show up for work for when we’re supposed to be there. We are gonna work our schedule, but we aren’t gonna do any extra,” Aaron Michler, of the New Orleans Firefighter Association, said.

We’re told the overtime boycott will not affect the Carnival parades because firefighters are scheduled to work. If nothing is settled with the city though, the overtime boycott could affect big events and festivals in the future.

“Hopefully this will get them to the table quicker to hear our concerns and work with us instead of just pushing us down the road. It’s been long enough,” Michler said.

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