Mischler: Saturday was not a "sick out"

Union leaders also say situation could get ugly

Kenny Kuhn
February 17, 2020 - 11:57 am

After a third of New Orleans' firefighter called out sick on Saturday, the first weekend of Mardi Gras, but the New Orleans Fire Fighters Association says that was just a typical Saturday.

The city and firefighters union continue to battle over excessive overtime. NOFD Chief Tim McConnell temporarily canceled vacation time for firefighters as a result and called the so-called sick out “extortion”.

But in an interview on WWL Radio, Union President Aaron Mischler doesn’t call it a sick out, “It wasn’t an official or un-official sick out. It wasn’t a job action at all. The numbers, they were around 15 maybe 20 more guys who called in sick than on a normal Saturday.”

He adds, “No one is working voluntary overtime right now so those extra numbers happen to hit them harder and that is the narrative that they wanted to use.”

When asked if Mayor Cantrell doesn’t resolve the situation soon, Mischler says things could get ugly. "And we don’t want to see that happen. The citizens don’t deserve that, the firefighters don’t deserve that, the city deserves better than what we are getting right now.”

Mischler says the mayor’s administration has said they are prepared to take other measures to ensure the city is protected during Mardi Gras. “If guys aren’t working that extra overtime and they can’t staff enough people in the city, we’ve heard that the mayor threatened to call in the National Guard or whatever they have to do to make sure they are covered.” Mischler adds, “We don’t want that to happen. We want our guys back in the stations where they belong.”

The New Orleans Fire Fighters Association scheduled a press conference later today to address the issues.

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