Union, city leaders delay East St. Louis firefighter layoffs

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EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KPLR) – A little more than an hour before a scheduled court hearing, the head of the East St. Louis Firefighters Union tells Fox2/News 11 that a meeting with city leaders has resulted in firefighter layoffs set for Monday being delayed for two weeks.

The President of East St. Louis Firefighters Union, Local 23, says the court hearing set for 1:30pm this afternoon in Belleville has also been continued.
The East St. Louis firefighters union was heading to court to try and stop significant layoffs from happening at the close of business Monday.

At the hearing, the union was going to seek a temporary restraining order halting the job losses.
But a last minute meeting between the city and the union has apparently stopped everything including the layoffs for the time being.

Sixteen East St. Louis firefighters, nearly 1/3 of the entire force, were set to lose their jobs at the end of the day.
The firefighters were being paid for through a federal grant that has now expired- East St. Louis Mayor Alvin parks says there is simply isn`t enough money in the budget now to keep the firefighters on the payroll.

The layoffs are not a surprise- everyone involved knew they were coming.
But that doesn`t eliminate any potential impacts that any layoffs could have on East St. Louis.
The firefighters union says the layoffs could compromise public safety.
Parks admits that response times could increase in some casesbut he believes the city can still be adequately protected.
Parks and East St. Louis City Manager Deletra Hudson say the number of firefighters who may face layoffs could drop to 14 because of two promotions that freed up some funds.
Parks and Hudson also say there are plans to rehire eight firefighters in January under the proposed 2014 budget.
That budget has to be approved by the city`s Financial Advisory Authority or ‘FAA.’
That board recommended on Friday that the city not go forward with the layoffs.
The ‘FAA’ says that the city has more than $500,000 in uncommitted funds that it could use to help pay the firefighters.
Parks and Hudson say the city did take in close to $700,000 in reimbursed St. Clair County property taxes.
But they tell us around $200,000 of that has already been put aside for public safety issues.
The other $500,000, they say, is going to be used to take care of massive back pay issues that the city faces with firefighters, police officers and other teamster unions.
We`re told the city of East St. Louis owes workers close to $700,000 in back pay dating back to 2011 after an arbitration ruling.
Parks and Hudson say the ‘FAA’ can`t tell them to spend that reimbursed property tax money.

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