NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A change along the New Orleans parade routes this year. You won’t see the firetrucks which usually signal the end of a parade.
Mayor Cantrell says the decision to keep them out of parades this year have nothing to do with the ongoing manpower dispute but the Firefighters’ Association disagrees.
Firefighters will still inspect each float before they roll, but instead of going to the end of the parade they will head back to their stations.
Fire chief Tim McConnell says when trucks trail the parade, firefighters are only effective in the immediate area. He says by leaving them in service away from the routes will help them respond to public safety needs across the city.
For a week, the City and the firefighters’ union have been disputing about what the union calls labor issues.
According to the union, firefighters are working between 96 and 120 hours a week to make up for a shortage in manpower. Firefighters also have issues with their overtime pay.
Mayor Cantrell says she’s the first mayor in years to increase pay for firefighters.
“We absolutely will not be bullied into an excess in $5 million to our firefighters, particularly when I’ve already authorized $4 million in a 10 percent pay raise that came less than a year from being in office. Action that was taken by me as being mayor that was not taken by the previous three mayors,” says Cantrell. “So, in terms of support unwavering as it relates to our firefighters.”
“She raised 10 percent across the board for all City employees in October 2018, which we were appreciative of that. We’re so far below the levels of other municipalities in the region that that’s one of the problems,” says NOFD Union President Aaron Mischler. “We can’t retain firefighters that we hire. They come here. They get their training. We pay for that. They get loads of experience for being firefighters in New Orleans and move onto better paying jobs around the state and country.”
Mayor Cantrell says she won’t meet with the firefighters’ union until after Mardi Gras.