East St. Louis firefighters get two-week layoff reprieve

News-DemocratSeptember 30, 2013 

The 14 East St. Louis firefighters who were slated to be laid off at the end of the business day Monday will remain on the job for at least two more weeks, city leaders said Monday.

The city agreed Monday morning to delay the layoffs for two weeks so they can continue negotiating with firefighters, said firefighters' union President Brandon Walls. Walls said the union was prepared to seek an injunction Monday afternoon to stop the layoffs.

Parks said the layoffs are rescinded until Oct. 15.

"We hope to negotiate something to keep the firefighters on the payroll through end of the year. A lot of the issues that are on the table include the backpay" that the city owes them, Parks said.

Asked whether the discussions, which are set for Tuesday morning, will include using some of the $500,000 that the city collected from St. Clair County in protested tax reimbursements, to pay the firemen's salaries, Parks said it, among many other issues including back pay, will be discussed.

Parks characterized Tuesday's negotiations meeting as "very, very, important."

"It may not be the be all end all meeting, but we are going to go in there and we're going to be hammering things out so we can keep as many firefighters as we can for as long as we can," Parks said.

Firefighters, the city and the city's state-appointed financial oversight panel have been battling over the layoffs, with public and firefighter safety colliding with the city's lean finances.

The city has 51 firefighters. The layoffs would have resulted in seven being on duty at a time, which is enough to staff two of the firehouses.

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