Brainerd city officials committed unfair labor practices by eliminating full-time firefighter positions in 2015, moves that led to to the elimination of the firefighters union, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled.
In a published opinion posted Monday, Oct. 8, the appeals court reversed part of a Crow Wing County District Court decision that had sided with the city in a lawsuit filed by the Firefighters Union Local 4725 and union President Mark Turner. In the suit, the union requested a number of things, including job reinstatement for full-time firefighters, damages in excess of $50,000, the chance to seek punitive damages and reimbursement of legal fees. The appeals court decision did not specify which relief requests the district court must grant, instead ordering it to “fashion an appropriate remedy.”
In the lawsuit, the union and Turner asserted the city violated the Minnesota Public Employment Labor Relations Act with its decision to restructure the fire department in September 2015, eliminating five full-time positions and using only paid on-call firefighters. This decision, the union argued, effectively dissolved the union that had reached a contract with the city just months earlier.