Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren made a very public offer to the firefighters Thursday.
Warren interrupted a press conference held by Firefighters Union President Eddie Santiago about brownouts or as the city calls it, dynamic staffing. That’s the policy that allows the fire chief to close firehouses if staffing is too low.
Warren’s offer asked the union to use funds from what is known as the Two Percent Fund, to end dynamic staffing. She handed Santiago a signed agreement on the matter. Santiago threw it on the floor.
“She obviously addressed the proposal to the wrong person,” said Santiago. “The wrong organization, local 1071, does not manage the 2% funds.”
Santiago says the union does not control the 2% fund. A separate committee that oversees the fund issued a statement after the press conference which claims the action would be illegal:
The Mayor's proposal has been shared with the Two Percent Committee and its legal counsel. Attorney Glenn Pezzulo, who has handled this litigation since its inception, has reconfirmed the fact that the use of the Two Percent Fund in the manner proposed by the Mayor would be illegal and a violation of Insurance Law Sections 9104 and 9105 and more importantly, the decision of Supreme Court Justice Thomas Stander which was incorporated into the Settlement Agreement and signed by the City on August 7, 2012.
Warren maintains that the measure would be legal.
“The two percent fund was what the union used to build their fire union hall,” said Warren. “I think it’s a reasonable request to ask them to utilize some of those dollars to actually go to fire equipment.”
The other part of the Warren’s proposal isn’t new to the union. She asked that they allow volunteers or retired firefighters with a commercial license to drive certain fire vehicles. Santiago rejected it.