By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The head of the Philadelphia firefighters’ union is calling the city’s fire commissioner a liar over the commissioner’s plans to rescind 14 promotions.
At issue is whether the fire commissioner is required to fill budgeted vacancies with firefighters who pass the promotion exam, as the union contends, or whether he can pick and choose.
Commonwealth Court has now sided with the Nutter administration in ruling that it is the commissioner’s prerogative.
That means 14 firefighters are being returned to lower-ranking jobs.
Joe Schulle, head of Firefighters Local 22, was fuming today over what he calls “demotions.”
“The commissioner lied, and our human resources director lied, and anybody else involved in the process who told our members that they were not going to be demoted, that this was unlikely to happen,” he said.
Everett Gillison, the mayor’s chief of staff, says the 14 are not being demoted and that they had been warned they would be sent back to their original jobs if the administration prevailed in court.
“What we’re doing has nothing to do with individuals,” Gillison says. “This is about how we are able to run the city, with fidelity to the citizens. This is not an anti-firefighter issue. This is only about maintaining management rights.”
The union is promising to appeal the Commonwealth Court ruling.
The sparring between the firefighters and the administration comes two weeks after Mayor Nutter decided to drop a separate legal battle over an arbitration contract award given to the union (see related story).