Lawyer fees for New York fire department dispute nearing $800,000

  • Source: Watertown Daily Times
  • Published: 02/08/2019 12:00 AM

The attorney representing the city has some doubts that the state’s highest court will take an arbitration case against the firefighters’ union, a continuation of a dispute that has already cost taxpayers nearly $800,000 in legal bills. Terry O’Neil, the Long Island labor attorney representing the city in the nearly five-year contract dispute with the firefighters’ union, acknowledged it will be difficult to convince the Court of Appeals to hear the case. The state’s highest court only accepts about 7 percent of the requested cases. But, if the city’s “file for leave to appeal” is successful, Mr. O’Neil predicts the state’s highest court will overturn an appellate court decision that reversed a 2018 ruling by state Supreme Court Judge James P. McClusky allowing the city to block arbitration in the contract dispute. Last Friday, the state Appellate Division, Fourth Department, in Rochester, unanimously reversed Judge McClusky’s decision that would allow an arbitrator to determine if a “minimum manning” clause can continue in the firefighters’ labor contract. The minimum manning clause has been the main sticking point during the city’s nearly five-year contract stalemate with the firefighters’ union.


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