BRAINERD, MN – Laid-off firefighters in Brainerd are suing the city for unfair labor practices and other claims after the City Council voted last year to replace the full-time firefighting staff with a paid-on-call department.
Brainerd once had five full-time firefighters along with dozens of paid volunteers who responded to calls. Eliminating the full-time positions and bringing in more paid-on-call firefighters was projected to save the city more than $260,000 in the first year, a sum the firefighters dispute.
Firefighters fought the change, and the Firefighters Union Local 4725 filed suit last week alleging unfair labor practices, arguing among other points that civil service rules require part-time individuals be laid off before full-time employees. They also claim the change violates the city’s charter.
Brainerd’s city administrator declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Marshall Tanick, an attorney representing the firefighters, said changes at the fire department constitute “a violation of the rights of the firefighters as employees as well as labor union members.”