The Sit Down: Firefighters meet face-to-face with Mayor Cantrell

Long awaited meeting hopefully brings back-and-forth work actions to end

Thomas Perumean
March 07, 2020 - 10:29 am
Long awaited meeting hopefully brings back-and-forth work actions to end

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New Orleans Firefighters Union Head Aaron Mischler finally got what he wanted: Mayor LaToya Cantrell sitting across the table from him in straight up, head-to-head negotiations.  

Mischler, weary of dealing with lower level city officials and having negotiations go nowhere, sat down with the Mayor on Friday.  

By all observations the initial meeting was cordial and the two found ground where they could negotiate over the issues which brought New Orleans almost to a work stoppage by ones who's job is to protect the City.  

"We're holding the city to their word," Mischler said Friday.  "We're confident they're going to keep their word."

Firefighters are seeking a solution a number of issues which have brought significant work actions.  

Ahead of Mardi Gras, firefighters announced they were no longer going to work overtime, as many firefighters reported they were being pushed to the physical breaking point.  

This started a back-and-forth where Fire Superintendent Timothy McConnell cancelled all vacations and halted the tradition of firetrucks following Mardi Gras parades. 

The department then accused firefighters of engaging in a sickout, when nearly one-third of the department failed to show up for work on a Saturday.  

That appeared to be the breaking point as Union Head Mischler and the Mayor agreed to meet together to get negotiations on the table.  

Still matters of overtime, pension, back pay, promotions, recruitment and retention still need to hammered out.  

After the meeting, Mayor Cantrell commented on the opening of negotiations: "We're in a much better place," Cantrell began.  "One that right now we are unified on.  We're making some really good progress."

"We're operating in good faith, same as them," Mischler spoke.  "We came together and we're hoping that we can continue to push forward and get these things worked out in a timely manner."

The Union and The City will sign a letter of intent to keep working on finding solutions.  

No word on when the next round of negotiations will take place.  
 

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