Seniority Does Not Control Temporary Firefighter Assignments

The Yonkers, New York Fire Department conducts a school for newly-hired firefighters. The purpose of the school is to prepare new hires for work in the Department. Part of the curriculum of the school involves physical training.

In September 2007, the Department assigned a firefighter to its training division to serve as the physical trainer for the Academy. Local 628 of the International Association of Fire Fighters challenged the assignment, contending that the most senior firefighter capable of performing the job should have been transferred.

An arbitrator rejected Local 628’s grievance. The Arbitrator noted that while the contract required that “transfers” be made on the basis of seniority, a transfer was a permanent move to a new position. On the other hand, the contract was silent with respect to either “temporary assignments” or “details.” Since the Physical Trainer position at the Academy was a temporary assignment, the Arbitrator ruled that the employer had discretion to assign a junior employee to the position.

City of Yonkers, New York, LAIG 6661 (Aiges, 2008).

This article appears in the February 2009 issue