Local News

Yonkers finally hires new class of firefighters after year-long political dispute

YONKERS (PIX11 News) – Arguably the 35 happiest men in the tri-state area strolled into the Yonkers library Friday afternoon to see their dream finally become a reality, albeit nearly five years after they started the process.

As PIX 11 News first exposed last summer the city’s Mayor, Mike Spano, held back federal dollars awarded to the city to hire the recruits. At the time, Yonkers was mired in 9% unemployment, higher than the national average and as the department desperately needed to fill more than 30 vacancies.

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The saga of these men to become firefighters began back in 2008.

Spano held the federal dollars over the head of the Yonkers firefighters union to force negotiations of a new contract. Mayor Spano even admitted to the political extortion la last June saying, “Everything is negotiable right now.”

Today,  Spano saved face and talked about his support of the Yonkers Fire Department during a swearing-in ceremony. The talk fell on def ears. Many in the audience smirked or chuckled, nonetheless Spano did pull the trigger on the hires.

However, the union told PIX 11 News that the delay in hiring the class cost taxpayers more than,$4 million in unnecessary additional overtime not factored into the budget.

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5 Comments to “Yonkers finally hires new class of firefighters after year-long political dispute”

    Informed taxpayer said:
    February 16, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    This is the Worst reporting I've ever seen. Mario Diaz is in bed with the Yonkers fire union. What would be the Mayor's motivation to go after the Fire Union? He ran for office with their support, why would he want to be in a political battle with any labor union, especially as a someone who has always had the support ofnlabor and is a Democratic Mayor in Yonkers. Maybe it's because This is the highest paid, lowest worked fire department in the nation. How many people get unlimited sick leave, a weeks extra pay for showing up to work 10 minutes early, over $20k a year in overtime on top of salary, work 3 days a week and retire with a six figure pension? Fire calls are lower than ever and while They are the city's first responders for all medical emergencies they only show up for less than half of the calls. Their overtime alone costs taxpayers nearly $10 million annually And this is all taking place in a city with an $80 million budget deficit. Yet the Mayor should just roll over while taxpayers foot the bill for this abuse. They won't negotiate a new contract because they can continue to operate on their expired contract that is the sweetest deal any union could ever have. The Mayor wanted to hire a new class of firefighters at a lower starting salary but the union refused to give up anything without getting more in return. They wont even train at the countys training facility where every other westchester city trains because they get paid time and a half to train in Yonkers. So when the Mayor starts telling the public the truth about this contract and the fire depts refusal to make reasonable concessions, the union calls in Mario Diaz to help in their campaign to deceive taxpayers into thinking the big bad mayor hates firefighters. What a scam and Pix 11 should be ashamed to call themselves a news agency with reporters like this. Don't take it from me though, Read any other news source and you will see a completely different story.

      your informed said:
      February 16, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      Gets your facts straight…INFORMED idiot. These recruits do train in the county's training center in Valhalla and not in Yonkers. Don't believe it, get your ass over there on Tuesday, put on some turnout gear with them, carry 130lbs extra and walk up 5 stories then crawl into an inferno.

      Informed Yonkersite said:
      February 16, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      Sorry, but you're wrong. Living on Nodine Hill, both of our fire stations have been under threat of closing since Mayor Spano took office. In the past six months there have been a number of neighborhood fires. These men are overworked, and while I am glad the mayor finally got around to the new hires, the fact that they don't totally take him seriously is unsurprising.

      Never put your constituents' safety beneath party politcs.

        PIX 628 said:
        February 17, 2013 at 12:58 AM

        I'm sorry but has "your firehouse" closed? Don't think any have been closed, but perhaps you felt they were under threat because the union has launched a media campaign to scare residents into believing our fire houses were closing. Don't drink the cool aid. No one is discrediting the members of the department, but the union leadership doesn't seem to understand the financial condition of the city and working people like me who can hardly afford my mortgage payment and put food on the table, let alone the taxes that pay for millions in overtime. Kudos to Mayor Spano for hiring new firefighters while also working to control out of control spending. I'd rather see cuts to overtime and perks than see cuts to jobs and fire houses. At some point the members of the department need to realize their union is not looking out for their best interest.

    Hack Attack said:
    February 16, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    WPIX and Mario Diaz are right on with this story. You must be Christina Gillmartin or some other City Hall hack making taking a six figure salary for doing nothing. You say read any other news source for a different story. What news source? The Journal News or Newsday? Are you kidding? Mario Diaz and WPIX are the only real news source when it comes to Yonkers. Cablevision and Gannett are in (Nick) Spano's pocket and wouldn't report the truth about Spano and his corrupt administration under any circumstances. Don't worry, you'll be reading alot more about Mike Spano in the New York Times and other "news sources" in the neaer future. Until then, WPIX is the only news agency willing to take on the Cuomo-Schwartz-Gerry-Spano quartet that is currently playing in Yonkers. Bravo WPIX, Bravo.

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